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1 The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven.
Ver. 1. The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came ] Came forth, saith St Mark, to wit, out of the coasts of Magdala, as soon as ever our Saviour arrived there, to quarrel him, and keep him from doing good. So active are the devil’s instruments to hinder the kingdom of God and the good of souls. Truth never wants an adversary; she goes seldom without a scratched face, as the proverb is. The Pharisees and Sadducees, though at deadly difference between themselves, yet can easily combine against Christ. So to this day the priests disparage the Jesuits, the Jesuits the priests, the priests again the monks, the monks the friars, but they can all conspire against Protestants, whom they jointly persecute. Dogs, though they fight never so fierce, and mutually intertear one another, yet if a hare run by they give over, and run after her. Martial makes mention of a hare on the Sicilian shore, that having hardly escaped the hounds that hunted her, was devoured by a sea dog; whereupon he brings her in thus complaining:
" In me omnis terraeque aviumque marisque rapina est:
Forsitan et coeli, si canis astra tenet. "
Tempting desired him ] Or questioned him to and fro, sifted him by interrogatories, pretending to be his friends, and to seek satisfaction only. a All this savour strongly of putrid hypocrisy, quae ipsis domestica erat virtus, as Aretius. Socinus did in like sort set upon Zanchius. "He was," saith Zanchius, "a learned man, and of unblamable conversation, but full of heresies, which yet he never propounded to me otherwise than by way of question, as seeming desirous to be better informed." b By this subtle means he drew away many, and sought to work upon Zanchius, as did also Matthaeus Gribaldus, and some such others. But when they could not prevail, they brake friendship with him, and he with them, for the which he praiseth God from the bottom of his heart.
Show them a sign ] Them, c by all means, as more worshipful men than the multitude, such as might merit an extraordinary sign. See here their satanical arrogance. So Herod would see our Saviour, that he might see a sign from him. He looked upon him no otherwise than upon some common magician, that would sure show him his best tricks. Thus these hypocrites here would gladly be gratified, but they were deceived.
a επηρωτησαν , vicissim interrogabant.
b Homo fuit p1enus diversarum haereseon, quas tamen mihi nunquam proponebat nisi disputandi causa, et semper interrogans quasi cuperet doceri. Zaneh.
c αυτοις , ipsis, i. q. solis.
2 He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red.
Ver. 2. When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair, &c. ] q.d. Are you so weatherwise (which yet is not your profession)? are ye so skilful in nature, and yet so ignorant of Scripture, as not to know that now is the time for the Messiah to come, and that I am he? Surely you are either notorious sots, or deep dissemblers, or both, in seeming so curiously to search after the truth, which yet you neither care to know, nor obey.
3 And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?
Ver. 3. Can you not discern the sign of the times? ] The men of Issachar were in great account with David, because "they had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do," 1 Chronicles 12:32 ; "A prudent man foreseeth an evil, and hideth himself," Proverbs 22:3 . He foreseeth it; not by divination, or star gazing, but by a judicious collection and connection of causes and consequences: as, if God be the same that ever, as holy, just, powerful, &c.; if sin be the same that ever, as foul, loathsome, pernicious, &c.; then such and such events will follow upon such and such courses. As God hath given us signs, and fore tokens of a tempest, so he hath also of an ensuing judgment, and blames those that take not notice thereof; sending them to school to the stork and swallow, Jeremiah 8:7 . If Elias see but a cloud as a hand arising from Carmel, he can tell that great store of rain will follow, that the whole heaven will anon be covered. Finer tempers are sooner sensible of change of weather. Moses, as more acquainted with God, spies his wrath at first setting out: so might we have done ere it came to this, and have redeemed a great part of our present sorrows, had we had our eyes in our heads, Ecclesiastes 2:14 , had we not been of those wilful ones, who seek straws to put out their eyes also, as Bernard hath it, or that wink for the filty talk, saith Justin Martyr, that they may not see, when some unsavoury potion is ministered unto them. a
a Qui festucam quaerunt unde oculos sibi eruant. Bern. εκουσιως καταπινοντες το πικρον .
4 A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.
Ver. 4. A wicked and adulterous generation ] See Trapp on " Mat 12:39 " The same wedge serves the same knot. They shall have no new answer from Christ, till they have made better use of the old. Let them return to thee, not thou to them, Jeremiah 15:19 .
And he left them, and departed ] Because he saw his sweet words were even spilt upon them. Frustra lavantur Aethiopes et certatur cum hypocritis: none are more obstinate and obdurate.
5 And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread.
Ver. 5. They had forgotten to take bread ] As wholly transported with fervour in following Christ, the bread of life. This is the fault of but a few today: worldly cares eat up heavenly desires, as the lean kine in Pharaoh’s dream did the fat.
6 Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
Ver. 6. Take heed and beware of the leaven ] Or take knowledge of, and then take heed of, false doctrine; a which is fitly called leaven, because it soureth, swelleth, spreadeth, corrupteth the whole lump, and all this secretly, cunningly, easily, suddenly; neither can our eyes discern it from dough by the colour, but only our palate by the taste. Now the ear trieth words, as the mouth trieth meat, Job 34:3 . Try all things before you trust anything. Those that sow false doctrine are somewhere in the Acts called λοιμοι , pests, botches, for their danger of infection, Acts 24:5 : some can carry their collusion so clearly, that if possible the very elect might be deceived; like serpents, they can sting without hissing; like cur-dogs, b suck your blood without biting. Nota est Arrii κυβεια , saith one, qua Constantini deride Nicovena elusit examen, by the cogging of a dye, by the adding of one iota, they corrupted the sense of the whole synod, c The Valentinians had a trick to persuade before they taught. d The ancient Anti-trinitarians set forth a base book of their doctrines under Cyprian’s name, and sold it dog-cheap, that men might the sooner buy it, and be led by it, as Ruffinus complains. Take heed and beware of such: ye are not ignorant of their wiles.
Of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees ] Κακοι μεν θριπες, κακοι ηδε και ιπες . Never a barrel better herring. (Erasm. Adag.) Howbeit, the Sadducees affected, by their very name, to be held the only just men; haply because they held that all the reward that righteous men are to look for is here in this world. (Josephus.) The occasion of this heresy is said to be this: When Antigonus taught that we must not serve God for wages, his scholars understood him as if he had utterly denied all future rewards or recompence attending a godly life: and thence framed their heresy, denying the resurrection, world to come, angels, devils, and lived as epicures and libertines.
a Οραν , cognitionis est, προσεχειν , autem cautelae.
b A dog: now always depreciative or contemptuous; a worthless, low-bred, or snappish dog. ŒD
c ομοιουσιον ponentes pro ομοουσιον .
d Habuerunt artificium quo prius persuaderent quam docerent. Tertull.
7 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread.
Ver. 7. It is because we have taken no bread ] Oh the dulness that is in the best to receive or retain heavenly mysteries! Surely, as owls see best by night, and are blind by day: so in deeds of darkness we are sharp sighted, wise to do evil; but in spirituals we are blinder than beetles, our wits serve us not, we are singularly stupid and stubborn.
8 Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread?
Ver. 8. O ye of little faith ] Fides famem non formidat. It was want of faith that made them fear they should perish in the wilderness for lack of bread: God was better to them than their fears. He makes the best living of it that lives by faith. Feed on faith; so Tremellius reads that, Psalms 37:3 .
Why reason ye among yourselves ] a They likely laid the fault of forgetfulness one upon another: but none found fault with himself for his unbelief and carnal reasoning.
a τι διελογιζεσθε , Disserere significat, ac verbis inter se disceptare.
9 Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?
Ver. 9. Neither remember ] Tantum didicimus, quantum meminimus. So much we learn as we remember. a Our memories are naturally like hour glasses, no sooner filled with good instructions and experiments than running out again. It must be our prayer to God that he would put his finger upon the hole, and so make our memories like the pot of manna, preserving holy truths in the ark of the soul.
a Discere voluit Socrates nihil aliud esse quam recordari. Cic. Tusc. Quaest.
10 Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?
Ver. 10. Neither the seven loaves ] Learn to lay up experiences. If we were well read in the story of our own lives (saith a reverend man, Dr Sibbs) we might have a divinity of our own. The philosopher saith, that experience is multiplex memoria, because of the memory of the same thing often done ariseth experience, which should be the nurse of confidence.
11 How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?
Ver. 11. How is it that ye understand not ] Ignorance under means is a blushful sin. The Scripture calls such, horses, asses, mules, and sends them to school to unreasonable creatures.
12 Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
Ver. 12. Then understood they how, &c. ] This chiding then was well bestowed. So was that, Luke 24:29 , upon the two disciples going to Emmaus, and that upon the Virgin Mary, John 2:5 ; she laid her hand upon her mouth and replied not. And that upon the Corinthians for conniving at the incestuous person; and that upon the Laodiceans, Revelation 3:14 , for Eusebius telleth us that in his time it continued to be a flourishing church. It is said of Gerson, that he took not content in anything so much as in a plain and faithful reproof from his friend. It is a commendation to suffer the words of exhortation,Hebrews 13:22; Hebrews 13:22 .
13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?
Ver. 13. Whom do men say that I, &c. ] This question Christ asked, not as tickled with ambition to hear his own commendation (which yet is held and said to be the only sweet hearing), a but as taking occasion to make way for their Christian confession, and likewise for their further information.
The Son of man am ] So he was called: 1. Because a true Man 1:2. Because he passed for no more than an ordinary man. "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" John 6:52 ; John 3:1-36 . Because as man born of a woman, he was of few days and full of trouble: yea, he was the man that had seen affliction by the rod of God’s wrath.
a ηδιστον ακουσμα επαινος . Xenophon.
14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.
Ver. 14. Some say that thou art John, &c. ] His body they saw was not John’s, but they held then (and the Jews to this day hold) the Pythagorean transanimation, or passing of souls out of one body into another. So because they received not the love of the truth, God gave them up to the efficacy of error, even the better sort of them, 2 Thessalonians 2:11 : for there were those who held Christ neither the Baptist, nor Elias, but a drunkard, a demoniac, &c. Who now can think to escape variety of censures? And why should any stumble at the diversity of opinions touching Christ and his kingdom?
15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
Ver. 15. But whom say ye that I am ] q.d. It behoveth you to say something that is better to the purpose, than the Vulgate saith and censureth. God will take that of some that he will not of others. Christ would not have his to stand doubtful, and to adhere to nothing certainly; to be in religion as idle beggars are in their way, ready to go which way soever the staff falleth; but to strive to a plerophory, a full assurance of knowledge, a certainty, as Luke hath it, Luk 1:4 and to be fully persuaded, Matthew 16:16 . A conjectural confidence, a general faith, the colliers’ faith, as they call it, sufficeth not, to believe as the Church believes, &c. And yet Thomas Aquinas, that great schoolman, had no better a faith to support him at the last hour of his life: nor could he have any rest within, till he had taken up the Bible, and clipping it in his arms, said, Lord, I believe all that is written in this holy book.
16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
Ver. 16. Simon Peter answered, &c. ] As the mouth of the company, and one that being, haply, older, and surely bolder than the rest, spake thus for them. But what a foul mouth of blasphemy opened those two popes (Peter’s pretended successors), Leo I and Nicholas III, that boasted that Peter was taken into fellowship of the individual Trinity? a Neither can that be excused that Jerome commenteth on the former verses ("Whom do men say that I am?" "But whom say ye that I am?") that our Saviour there purposely opposeth his disciples to men, to intimate that they were something more than men. This is something like that note of a Latin expositor upon Exodus 30:31 , where, because it is said, Exodus 30:32 ; "Upon man’s flesh the holy ointment shall not be poured, thou shalt anoint Aaron and his sons therewith," thence infers that priests are angels, and have not human flesh. These were human glosses, and savoured as little of God’s meaning as that unsavoury speech of Peter, Matthew 16:22 ; of this chapter, for the which he heareth, "Get thee behind me, Satan; thou savourest not," &c.
Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God ] b A short confession, but such as in few containeth whatsoever we believe concerning the person and office of Christ, Brevis et longa planeque aurea est haec confessio. Well may we say of it, as St Bartholomew (quoted by Dionysius) did of the doctrine of Divinity, that it is Και πολλη και ελαχιστη , little and yet large.
a Petrum in consortium individuae Trinitatis assumptum iactarunt. Revius.
b ο Υιος του θεου του ζωντος . Singulae dictiones suos habent articulos εμφατικως adiectos. Aret.
17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
Ver. 17. Blessed art thou, Simon ] These and the following words of our Saviour to Peter were meant to all the apostles also, John 20:22-23 . Christ took his beginning of one, to teach unity in his Church, in the confession of faith. Note this against the Papists, who miserably wrest and deprave this text, to the proving of the papal monarchy. Gregory the Great, though he styled himself a servant of God’s servants, and detested the pope of Constantinople for arrogating the title of Universal Bishop, during the reign of Mauritius; yet when he was slain, and succeeded by the traitor Phocas, he ceased not to flatter the same Phocas, to commend unto him the care of the Church of Rome, and to exhort him to remember this saying of our Saviour, "Thou art Peter," &c., and for no other end, than that he might extend his power by the favour of the parricide.
18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Ver. 18. Thou art Peter ] i.e. Thou art a living stone in the spiritual temple, like as Peter saith all other Christians are,1 Peter 2:5; 1 Peter 2:5 . And here Christ tells Peter why at first he gave him that name.
Upon this rock ] That is, upon this thy rocky, thy solid and substantial confession of me. Austin saith, the rock is Christ, not Peter. But this, saith Stapleton, is humanus lapsus in Augustino. So the schoolmen say that St Austin stood so much for grace, that he yielded too little to free will. But it was a true saying of learned Dr Whitaker’s, in his answer to Campian, Patres in maximis sunt nostri, in multis varii, in minimis vestri. Not Peter, but Phocas, is the right craggy rock upon which the Popish supremacy is founded.
I will build my Church ] Christ calls not the Church βουλην , or ουγκλητον , which is properly a convention of lords and statesmen, but εκκλησιαν , which is an assembly of the common people, even those of the lower rank and condition; a according to that1 Corinthians 1:26; 1 Corinthians 1:26 ; Luke 1:48 ; "he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden."
And the gates of hell, &c. ] That is, all the power and policy of hell combined. The devil lendeth his instruments, the Church’s enemies, his seven heads to plot, and his ten horns to push. Craft and cruelty go together in them, as the asp never wanders alone; and as the Scripture speaks of those birds of prey, Isaiah 34:16 ; "none of them lacks his mate." But yet all this shall not prevail: the devil may shake his chain at the saints, not set his fangs in them. For what reason? they stand upon a Rock that is higher than they, so that the floods of temptations and oppositions cannot come so much as at their feet; or if they reach to the heel, yet they come not at the head; or if they should dash higher upon them, yet they break themselves.
Shall not prevail against it ] No, though the devil should discharge at the Church his greatest ordinance; say they were as big as those two cast by Alphonsus, Duke of Ferrara, the one whereof he called the Earthquake, and the other Grandiabolo, or the great devil.
Whether may the Catholic Church err in fundamentals?
It is answered, that though the universal Church of Christ, taken for his mystical body upon earth, and complete number of his elect, cannot err in matters fundamental, yet the external visible part of the Church may err, because the truth of God may be locked up within the hearts of such a company, as in competition of suffrages, cannot make a greater part in a general council; so that the sentence decreed therein may be a fundamental error.
a εκκλησιαζειν , est concionari, cum populo agere. Cameron.
19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Ver. 19. And I will give unto thee the keys ] i.e. I will make thee and all my ministers stewards in my house, 1 Corinthians 4:1 , such as Obadiah was in Ahab’s house, as Eliakim in Hezekiah’s, upon whose shoulder God laid the key of the house of David, so that he opened and none shut, and shut and none opened, Isaiah 22:22 . Now let a man so think of us ministers, how mean soever, and we shall not lack respect.
20 Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.
Ver. 20. That they should tell no man ] viz. Till the due time. Everything is beautiful in its season, saith Solomon, Ecclesiastes 3:11 . Silence in some cases is a virtue, as here. The disciples might preach that Christ the Son of David was come to save the world; though they might not particularly point him out as the Son of the living God: which when Pilate himself heard he was afraid, saith the text, and sought to deliver him.
21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.
Ver. 21. How that he must go to Jerusalem ] He must, necessitate non simplici, sed ex supposito. It being supposed that God had decreed this way (and no other) to glorify himself in man’s salvation by the death of his dear Son (wherein the naked bowels of his love were laid open to us, as in an anatomy), it was necessary that Christ should be killed and raised again at the third day. Voluntas Dei, necessitas rei.
And be killed and raised again ] That we might live and reign with him for ever, who else had been killed with death, as the phrase is, Revelation 2:23 ; that is, had come under the power of the second death. David wished he might have died for Absalom, such was his love to him. Arsinoe interposed herself between the murderer’s weapons, sent by Ptolemy, her brother, to kill her children. The pelican not only feeds the young with her own blood, but with invincible constancy abides the flames of fire for their preservation. Christ is that good shepherd, who gave his life for his sheep: he is that true pelican, who saw the wrath of God burning about his young ones, and cast himself into the midst thereof, that he might quench it. He was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification, which began in his death, but was perfected by his resurrection,Romans 4:25; Romans 4:25 .
22 Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.
Ver. 22. Then Peter took him ] Took him by the hand, and led him apart, as we do those we are most intimate with, in great courtesy and secrecy, to impart to them things of greatest importance. Peter was strongly possessed with a fond conceit of an earthly kingdom; and as Joseph dreamed of his preferment, but not at all of his imprisomnent, so neither could Peter think or hear of Christ’s being killed, whom he had even now confessed to be the Christ, the Son of the living God. See here how easily we slide, by the deceitfulness of our hearts, from the mean to the extreme. Peter having made a notable profession of his faith, and being therefore much commended by Christ, presently takes occasion to fall from the true holiness of faith to the sauciness of presumption, in advising his Master to decline the cross.
And began to rebuke him, saying ] No, he did not rebuke him, saith Maldonatus the Jesuit, but friendly counselled him only, as if επιτιμαν were not to chide and charge, as masters do their servants, even with threatenings and menaces. a But these patrons of Peter (as they pretend) will not abide that he should be blamed for anything. Baronius blusheth not to say (and so to put the lie upon the Holy Ghost himself) that Paul was wrong in reproving Peter,Galatians 2:14; Galatians 2:14 , and that it had been better manners for him to have held his tongue. Others of them have blasphemously censured St Paul in their sermons as a hot-headed person, of whose assertions no great reckoning was to be made by the sober minded; and that he was not secure of his preaching, but by conference with St Peter, neither dared he publish his Epistles till St Peter had allowed them.
a Non tantum significat reprehendere et increpare, sed etiam interminari et interdicere. Gerh
23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.
Ver. 23. Get thee behind me, Satan ] Come behind as a disciple, go not before me as a teacher; understand thy distance, and hold thee to thy duty, by moving in thine own sphere; that thou be not thus odiously eccentric, another Satan, who sets thee to work thus to tempt me, as he once did Eve to seduce Adam: here Maldonatus is hard put to it to save Peter blameless, and saith that "Get thee behind me" is a Hebrew phrase, and imports no more than "Follow me." But when he comes to consider that Christ calls him Satan, and that it would not be seemly that Christ should bid Satan follow him, he is forced to confess that it is the speech of one that bids another be packing out of his presence with indignation, like that of Christ to the tempter, Matthew 4:1-11 "Get thee hence, Satan." Prosit tibi sternutatio tun. (Maldonatus.) When the executioner wished Polycarp to be merciful to himself, he bade him hold his peace; he was his tormentor, not his counsellor.
Thou art an offence unto me ] Thou doest thy good will to hinder me in the course of my calling, as Mediator, wherein, say some, he sinned more grievously than afterwards he did in denying his Master, and was therefore so sharply rebuked. So when Socrates was solicited by Criton to break out of prison, and save his life by flight; Friend Criton, said he, thine earnestness herein were much worth, if it were consistent with uprightness; but being not so, the greater it is, the more troublesome. a I know not (said that Scotish martyr) by what reason they so called them my friends, which so greatly laboured to convert (pervert) me. Neither will I more esteem them than the Midianites, which in times past called the children of Israel to do sacrifice to their idols.
But the things that be of men ] Formerly it was of Satan, now of men. How easy is it to find a devil in our best friends sometimes, as Rebezies the French martyr did in his parents! Satan seduces such as may do much with us, and works in them effectually for our harm, as a smith doth in his forge, Ephesians 2:2 ; "They were tempted," and thereby "tormented," saith the apostle of those worthies ( επειρασθησαν ), Hebrews 11:37 . Satan speaks to us sometimes by our friends, as through trunks and canes.
a η προθυμια σου πολλου αξια ει μετα τινος ορθοτητος ειη, ει δε μη, οσψ μειζων, τοσουτψ χαλεπωτερα .
24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
Ver. 24. If any man will come after me ] Not step before me, prescribe to me, as Peter attempted to do, whose fault herein is purposely recorded, that he might not be (as by the Papists, for political respects, he is) overly much magnified, nay, deified, as is above observed, and made collateral, a very copesmate, to Christ himself.
Let him deny himself ] Abdicet seipsum ( απαρνησασθω ), let him abrenounce himself flatly, peremptorily, again and again (as the word importeth), with a stout and stiff denial to so unreasonable a request, as self will be sure to make to a man his whole life throughout. Every one hath many a self within himself to say nay to, though never so dear to him. Levi said unto his father and to his mother, "I have not seen him, neither did he acknowledge his brethren, nor know his own children, that he might observe God’s word, and keep his covenant," Deuteronomy 33:9 . This was much; but he that will be Christ’s disciple must do more than this, he must deny himself, his own reason, will, affections, appetite, aims, ends, acts, righteousness, &c., he must utterly renounce himself, as much as if he had nothing at all to do with himself. Yea, he must condenm and cast away himself, as God doth those reprobates whom he denieth, disowneth, and disavoweth for ever. Horreo quicquid de meo est ut sim meus, saith Bernard. Ita cave tibi ut caveas teipsum, saith another. So take heed to yourself, that you take heed of yourself. Oh misery! saith a third, we could not suffer a Lord, and yet we sustain to serve our fellow servant, self. a Valentinian the emperor dying, affirmed, that he was proud of one of his victories only, viz., that he had overcome his own flesh, that worst of enemies. Of all slaveries, none so grievous to a good heart as to be a slave to himself. And this yoke of slavery, it is an easy matter to shake off, saith Seneca, but he is foully deceived; for a man will sooner say nay to all the world than to himself. This made Robert Smith the martyr write thus to his wife, "Be always an enemy to the devil and the world, but specially to your own flesh." There are some diseases that will not be cured, till we be let blood ad deliquium animae, for the dropping down of the spirit, till the patient swoon: and such is sin; it is corruptio totius substantiae, the corruption of the whole state; the sinner must be unmade, taken all asunder, ere the new creature can be made up in him; he must be stark dead to sin, ere he can live to righteousness, as St Peter hath it ( απογενομενοι ), 1 Peter 2:24 ; and the word he useth there implieth, that the old frame must be utterly dissolved, and the whole man done to death, and offered for a whole burnt offering. Instead of a ram, saith Origen, we must kill our ireful passions; instead of a goat, our unclean affections; instead of flying fowls, our idle thoughts and evil imaginations. Lo, this is that evangelical sacrifice, that rational service so much commended and called for, Romans 12:1 ; "Do this, and thou shalt live;" leave it undone, and thou art undone for ever. Pray therefore with him, Domine, libera me a malo homine, meipso, Lord, free me from an ill man, myself.
And take up his cross ] Where self is renounced, the cross is easily borne. It is self (saith one) makes the cross pinch. Things puffed up with wind break when they come to the fire; so those that are puffed up, and filled with self, will suffer nothing. Privation is one of the principles of natural generation, so is self-denial of holy conversation. Fain would this flesh make strange of that which the Spirit doth embrace (said M. Saunders, martyr, in a letter written to his wife out of the prison). O Lord, bow loth is this loitering sluggard to pass forth in God’s path! It fancieth, forsooth, much fear of the fray-bugs and boogey-men, &c. Take up the cross and follow me through thick and thin, through fire and water. Oh, this is a hard saying, saith another martyr. But if there be any way on horse back to heaven, surely this is the way. Only we must take up our cross, be active in it, and not stay till it be laid upon us whether we will or not. And then bear it patiently, not grin under the burden of it, as antic pictures seem to do under the weight of the house side whereunto they are fastened. Drink off God’s cup willingly, and at the first (said Mr Bradford), and when it is full; lest peradventure if we linger, we drink at length of the dregs with the wicked, if at the beginning we drink not with his children. We must take up our crosses (saith another), and when God bids us yoke, he is the wisest man that yields his neck most willingly.
And follow me ] Without sciscitation; let him go blindfolded whither I lead him, as Abraham did. b Neither may he leap over the hedge of the command, for avoiding the foul way of affliction, Sed eundum quocunque Christus vocarit, etiamsi in ea loca migrandum esset.
" Pigris ubi nulla campis
Arbor aestiva recreatur aura;
Quod latus mundi nebulae, malusque
Iupiter urget. " Horat. i. 22.
God hath predestinated us to be conformed to the image of his Son, in sufferings also,Romans 8:29; Romans 8:29 . Crux pendentis, cathedra docentis. Plato was crook-backed, and his scholars counted it an ornament to go crooked like him. Aristotle lisped, and his scholars thought it an honour to lisp. Shall not we hold ourselves honoured that may suffer with Christ, and then be glorified also with him?
a O rem miseram! Dominum ferre non potuimus, conservo servinus
b Semper memento illud Pythagoricum, Επον θεψ . Boetius.
25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
Ver. 25. For whosoever will save his life ] That is parsimonious of it, when Christ calls him to be prodigal of it. Man is naturally a "life loving creature." a What man is he that desireth life? I do, and I, and I, as Augustine brings men in, making ready answer. Quis vitam non vult? Life is sweet, we say, and every creature makes much of it, from the highest angel to the lowest worm, as that Father observeth. But life in God’s displeasure is worse than death, as death in his true favour is true life, said Bradford to Gardiner; for such a death lays hold upon eternal life, as St Paul hath it, 1 Timothy 6:19 , or (as other copies read it) upon life indeed ( της οντως ζωης ). For, aeterna vita vera vita, saith Augustine. "None to that," as David said of Goliath’s sword. "None but Christ, none but Christ," as that martyr cried in the flames. This love of Christ made them sacrifice their dearest lives to his name, yea, profess, as John Ardely did to Bonnet, That if every hair of his head were a man, he would suffer death in them all for his sweet Christ’s sake. My wife and my children are so dearly beloved unto me, that they cannot be bought from me for all the riches and possessions of the Duke of Bavaria; but for the love of my Lord God I will willingly forsake them, said George Carpenter, who was burnt at Munchen in Bavaria.
a Ζωον φιλοζωον . Aesop in Fab.
26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
Ver. 26. Yet what is a man profited ] Francis Xanerius counselled John the Third, King of Portugal, to meditate every day a quarter of an hour on this divine sentence. If there could, saith a reverend divine, be such a bargain made, that he might have the whole world for the sale of his soul, he should, for all that, be a loser by it. a For he might, notwithstanding, be a bankrupt, a beggar, begging in vain, though but for a drop of cold water to cool his tongue. Is it nothing then to lose an immortal soul, to purchase an ever-living death? The loss of the soul is in this verse set forth to be 1. incomparable; 2. irreparable. If, therefore, to lose the life for money be a madness, what then the soul? What wise man could fetch gold out of a fiery crucible? hazard himself to endless woes for a few waterish pleasures? give his soul to the devil, as some popes did for the short enjoyment of the Papal dignity? What was this but to wilt Venice, and then to be hanged at the gates thereof, as the proverb is. b In great fires men look first to their jewels, then to their lumber; so should these see first to their souls, to secure them, and then take care of the outward man. The soldier cares not how his buckler speeds, so his body be kept thereby from deadly thrusts. The pope persuading Maximilian (king of Bohemia, afterwards emperor) to be a good Catholic, with many promises of profits and preferments, was answered by the king that he thanked his Holiness; but that his soul’s health was more dear to him than all the things in the world. Which answer they said in Rome was a Lutheran form of speech, and signified an alienation from the obedience of that see; and they began to discourse what would happen after the old emperor’s death.
Or what shall a man give in exchange ] He would give anything in the world, yea, 10,000 worlds if he had them, to be delivered. But out of hell there is no redemption. Hath the extortioner pillaged, or the robber spoiled thy goods? By labour and leisure thou mayest recover thyself again. But the soul once lost is irrecoverable. Which when the guilty soul at death thinks of, oh, what a dreadful shriek gives it, to see itself launching into an infinite ocean of scalding lead, and must swim naked in it for ever! How doth it, trembling, warble out that doleful ditty of dying Adrian the emperor:
" Animula, vagula, blandula,
Hospes comesque corporis,
Quae nunc abibis in loca
Horridula, sordida, tristia,
Nec, ut soles, dabis iocos? "
a Mr Ley’s Monitor of Mortality.
b Non magis iuvabitur, quam qui acquirat Venetias, ipse vero suspendatur ad Portam ut est in proverbio. Par. in loc.
27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.
Ver. 27. In the glory of his Father with his angels ] Great will he the glory of the man Christ Jesus at his second coming. He shall come riding on the clouds (not that he needs them, but to show his sovereignty), environed with flaming fire, mounted on a stately throne, attended by an innumerable company of angels (for they shall all come with him, not one of them left in heaven, 2 Thessalonians 1:7 ; Mat 25:31 ), who shall minister unto him in this great work irresistibly, justly, speedily, Revelation 15:6 , Christ himself shining in the midst of them, with such an exuberance and excess of glory, as that the sun shall seem but a snuff to him. This glory, however it is here called "The glory of the Father," because he is the fountain, as of the Deity so of the divine glory wherewith Christ is crowned, Philippians 2:9 ; 1 Timothy 3:16 ; yet is it his own glory (as he is one with the Father and the Holy Ghost), and so it is called, Matthew 25:31 ; John 17:5 . Now if Israel so shouted for joy at Solomon’s coronation, and in the day of his espousals, that the earth rang again, 1 Kings 1:40 ; Song of Solomon 3:11 ; if the Grecians so cried out " Soter, soter " Saviour, Savior, to Flaminius the Roman general, when he had set them at liberty, that the very birds, astonished at the noise, fell down to the earth: oh, how great shall be the saints’ joy to see Christ the King in his beauty and bravery at the last judgment!
28 Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.
Ver. 28. Which shall not taste of death ] The saints do but taste of death only, they do no more but sip of that bitter cup, which for tasting of that forbidden fruit in the garden, they should have been swilling and swallowing down for ever.
Till they see the Son of man, &c. ] This verse is to be referred to the transfiguration recorded in the next chapter, where some of them had the happiness to see Christ in his kingdom; that is, in his heavenly glory, whereof they had a glimpse.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Matthew 16". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29