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1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.
Ver. 1. Then was Jesus led up ] Lest haply the people, hearing that testimony from heaven, should come and take him by force to make him a king, as John 6:15 ; to try their love also to him, who was thus overclouded as the sun in his first rising.
Led up of the Spirit ] The better to fit him thereby for the ministry. Luther observed of himself, that when God was about to set him upon any special service, he either laid some fit of sickness upon him beforehand, or turned Satan loose upon him; who so buffeted him (again) by his temptations, ut nec calor, nec sanguis, nec sensus, nec vex superesset, that neither heat, nor blood, nor sense, nor voice remained: the very venom of the temptations drank up his spirit, and his body seemed dead, as Justus Jonas, that was by and saw it, reported of him in his epistle to Melancthon. a Hence also it was that in his sermons God gave him such a grace, saith Mr. Foxe, that when he preached, they that heard him thought, every one, his own temptation to be severally touched and noted. Whereof when signification was given unto him by his friends, and he demanded how that could be? "Mine own manifold temptations," saith he, "and experiences are the cause thereof:" for from his tender years he was much beaten and exercised with spiritual conflicts, as Melancthon in his Life testifieth. Also Hieronymus Wellerus, scholar to the said Mr. Luther, recordeth, that he oftentimes heard Luther his master report of himself, that he had been assaulted and vexed with all kinds of temptations (saving only with that of covetousness), and was thereby fitted for the work of the Lord. Whence also he was wont to say that three things made a preacher, -meditation, prayer, and temptation.
Into the wilderness ] Likely the wilderness of Sinai, where Moses and Elias had fasted before. These three great fasters met afterwards in Mount Tabor, Matthew 17:3 . God promiseth to turn his people’s fasting into feasting, Zechariah 8:19 . The devil took advantage of the place here, to assault our Saviour in the desert, but was beaten on his own dunghill, that we might overcome through him that loved us, Romans 8:37 , the fiend being already foiled by Christ.
To be tempted of the devil ] No sooner was Christ out of the water of baptism than in the fire of temptation. So David, after his anointing, was hunted as a partridge upon the mountains. Israel is no sooner out of Egypt than Pharaoh pursues them. Hezekiah no sooner had kept that solemn passover, than Sennacherib comes up against him. St Paul is assaulted with vile temptations after the abundance of his revelations, 2 Corinthians 12:7 . And Christ teacheth us, after forgiveness of sins obtained, to look for temptations and to pray against them, Matthew 6:13 . While Jacob would be Laban’s drudge and pack horse, all was well; but when once he began to flee, he makes after him with all his might. All was jolly quiet at Ephesus before St Paul came thither; but then "there arose no small stir about that way," Acts 19:23 . All the while our Saviour lay in his father’s shop, and meddled only with carpenter’s chips, the devil troubled him not. But now that he is to enter more publicly upon his office of mediatorship, the tempter pierceth his tender soul with many sorrows, by solicitation to sin. ( πειραζω from πειρω , to pierce through.) And dealt he so with the green tree? what will he do with the dry? Temptations (besides those that come from God, which are only probationis, approval, not perditionis, damnation as the other) are of two sorts: for either they are of seducement, James 1:14 , or of buffeting and grievance, 2 Corinthians 12:7 ; either of allurement or frightment. ( Irritamenta, vel terriculamenta. ) In the former we are pressed with some darling corruption, whereto our appetites by nature have the most propensity; in the latter we are dogged with foulest lusts of atheism, idolatry, blasphemy, murder, &c., that nature startles at: in these the devil tempts alone, and that so grossly, that the very flesh is ashamed of it. But in the former, that come more immediately from the flesh, the devil only interposeth himself, and speaks his good word for them; whence they are called messengers of Satan, 2 Corinthians 12:7 ; Ephesians 4:27 , we are said in anger to "give place to the devil;" and in resisting of lusts, we "resist the devil," James 4:7 .
a Lutherus in oppidum Eisleben honorifice introductus est, valetudine admodum imbecilla, et tantum non desperata: quod sibi accidere semper, cum magni quippiam aggrederetur, dixit. Melchior Adam.
2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.
Ver. 2. And when he had fasted forty days, &c. ] All Christ’s actions are for our instruction, not all for our imitation. We may not imitate the works miraculous of Christ, and proper to him as mediator. The ignorance of this caused some to counterfeit themselves Christ’s: as one Moor in King Edward VI’s time, and one Hacker in Queen Elizabeth’s time, David George, and various others; according to Matthew 24:24 . Neither need we seek to imitate him in his infirmities, which (though they were not sinful, but only natural, and therefore unblamable) yet import a weakness (as that he was hungry, weary, sleepy, &c.), and so, though they be in us, yet we need not strive the attainment of them. But we must imitate the Lord Christ in all his imitable graces and actions: showing forth the praises or virtues of him that hath called us out of darkness into his marvellous light. ( τας αρετας εξαγγειλητε , 1Pe 2:9 ) The word signifies to preach them abroad; for we should practise those virtues so clearly, that our lives may be as so many sermons upon the life of Christ. It is a dishonour to a dear friend to hang his picture in a dark hole and not in a conspicuous place, that it may appear we rejoice in it as an ornament to us; think the same of Christ’s image and graces, show them forth we must, and express them to the world; walking in Christ,Colossians 2:6; Colossians 2:6 , yea, as Christ, 1 John 2:6 , who therefore left us a copy that we might write after it, a sampler that we might work by it, a pattern that we should follow his steps, 1 Peter 2:21 ; ( υπογραμμον . Exemplar quod oculo conspicitur ), And although we cannot follow him passibus aequis, yet we must show our goodwills, stretching and straining our utmost, as St Paul did; επεκτεινομενος, Php 3:14 striving what we can to resemble him, not as a picture doth a man in outward lineaments only; but as a son doth his father (for he is the Father of eternity, Isa 9:6 ) in nature and disposition; and as servants, labouring to do as our Lord, John 13:15 , who therefore washed his disciples’ feet, to give us an example of humility; as he did likewise of meekness, Matthew 11:29 ; patience,1 Peter 2:21; 1 Peter 2:21 ; obedience, Hebrews 12:2 ; diligence and fidelity in his function, Hebrews 3:1-2 ; fewness of words, yet boldness of speech, going about and doing all possible good; beneficence to the poor saints,2 Corinthians 8:9; 2 Corinthians 8:9 ; constancy in profession, 1 Timothy 6:13 ; forgiveness of others and love to the brethren,Ephesians 5:2; Ephesians 5:2 ; "Be ye therefore followers herein of Christ, as dear children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance; but as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation,"1 Peter 1:14-15; 1 Peter 1:14-15 .
He was afterward an hungred ] Our Saviour was tempted all that forty days’ time, saith St Luke; but these three worst assaults were reserved to the last. So deals the devil with the Church (which is Christ mystical, 1Co 12:12 ). He never ceaseth tempting, though never so often repulsed; and is therefore called Beelzebub, as some will have it, the lord of flies, because the fly is noted for an impudent creature, that will soon return to the bait, though beaten away but erewhile. ( κυναμυια ponitur apud Homerum pro valde impudente; quia muscae pervicaces sunt, &c. ) Hence those many bickerings and buffetings we meet with all our life long: and hence those sharpest encounters and terrible conflicts many times at the hour of death. The Israelites met with many trials and troubles in the wilderness, Amalek and the Amorites, sore thirst, and fiery serpents, &c., but were never so put to it as when they came to take possession of the promised land; for then all the kings of Canaan combined to keep them out. So the devil, furious enough at all times, most of all bestirs him at last cast, because he knows his time is but short, Revelation 12:12 , for death sets a saint out of his gunshot ( α βελους ). Satan may compass the earth, but not enter the borders of heaven. He tempted Adam in the earthly Paradise; he cannot tempt in the heavenly: hence his malice, while he may. Morientium nempe bestiaram violentiores sunt morsus (ut ille olim de semidiruta Carthagine): beasts that have their death’s wound, bite cruelly, convulse exceedingly.
3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.
Ver. 3. Then came unto him the tempter ] ο πειραζων . So called, because he politicly feels our pulses which way they beat, and accordingly fits us a penny worth. He sets a wedge of gold before covetous Achan, a courtesan Cozbi before a voluptuous Zimri, a fair preferment before an ambitious Absalom: and finds well that a fit object is half a victory. So dealt his agents with those ancient Christians, επρισθησαν, επειρασθησαν , they "were sawn asunder, they were tempted," saith the apostle, Heb 11:37 to wit, with the proffers of preferment, would they but have renounced their religion and done sacrifice to an idol. So the Pope tempted Luther with wealth and honour. But all in vain; he turned him to God, Et valde protestatus sum, saith he, me nolle sic satiari ab eo, he said flat, that God should not put him off with these low things. (Melch. Adam.) Here was a man full of the spirit of Christ. The tempter came to Christ, but found nothing in him; that matter was not malleable. In vain shall the devil strike fire if we find not tinder; in vain shall he knock at the door if we look not out to him at the window. Let us but divorce the flesh from the world, and the devil can do us no hurt. Ita cave tibi, ut caveas teipsum. From that naughty man myself, good Lord, deliver me, said one.
If thou be the Son of God ] As the devil quarrelled and questioned the law given in Paradise as nought, or naught; so doth he hear the voice from heaven as a mere imposture. And this he did out of deep and desperate malice; for he could not be ignorant nor doubtful. Neither is his dealing otherwise with us (many times), who are too ready (at his instigation) to doubt our spiritual sonship. We need not help the tempter, by holding it a duty to doubt; this is to light a candle before the devil, as we use to speak. Rather let us settle and secure this, that we are indeed the sons of God and heirs of heaven, by passing through the narrow womb of repentance, that we may be born again, and by getting an effectual faith, the property whereof is to adopt as well as to justify; viz. ratione obiecti, by means of Christ the object upon whom faith layeth hold, and into whom it engrafts the believer after an unspeakable manner. Now ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus, Galatians 3:26 ; John 1:12 , who hath both laid down the price of this greatest privilege, Hebrews 9:15 ; Galatians 4:5 , and sealed it up to us by his Spirit, crying, "Abba, Father," in our hearts, whatever Satan or our own misgiving hearts object to the contrary, Galatians 4:6 ; Romans 8:15 ; Ephesians 1:13 .
Command that these stones be made bread ] And so distrust the providence of God for relieving thy body in this hunger; help thyself by working a preposterous miracle, in this point of God’s providence for this present life. Satan troubled David and Jeremiah, and so he doth many good souls at this day, who can sooner trust God with their souls than with their bodies; and for a crown than for a crust, as those disciples, Matthew 16:8 .
4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
Ver. 4. But he answered and said, It is written ] "With his sore and great and strong sword" of the Spirit doth the Lord here "punish leviathan, that crooked piercing serpent," Isaiah 27:7 . With these shafts out of God’s quiver, with these pebbles chosen out of the silver streams of the Scriptures, doth he prostrate the Goliah of hell. The word of God hath a power in it to quail and to quash Satan’s temptations, far better than that wooden dagger, that leaden sword of the Papists, their holy water, crossings, grains, dirty relics, &c. It is not the sign of the cross, but the word of the cross, that overthrows Satan. He can no more abide by it than an owl by the shining of the sun. Set therefore the word against the temptation, and the sin is laid. Say, I must not do it, I may not, I dare not; for it is forbidden in such a place, and again in such a place. And be sure to have places of Scripture ready at hand (as Saul had his spear and pitcher ready at his head even while he slept), that ye may "resist the devil," "steadfast in the faith," grounded on the word. Joseph overcame him by remembering the seventh commandment: and David, by hiding this word in his heart, Psalms 119:11 . Wicked therefore was that advice of Dr Bristow to his agents, to labour still to get heretics out of their weak and false castle of Holy Scriptures into the plain fields of councils and fathers. The Scriptures are our armoury (far beyond that of Solomon, Son 4:4 ), whither we must resort and furnish ourselves. One savoury sentence thereof shall do us more service than all the pretty, witty sayings and sentences of fathers and philosophers, or constitutions of councils.
Man liveth not by bread alone ] Though ordinarily, as having a nourishing property inherent in it for such a purpose; yet so, as that the operation and success is guided by God’s power and goodness, whereon (as on a staff) this staff of life leaneth, Ezekiel 4:16 ; "A wise woman buildeth her house," Proverbs 14:1 . As the carpenter lays the plan of the house in his head first, and contrives it, so doth she forecast, and further the well doing of her family: and yet "except the Lord also build the house, they labour in vain that build it," Psalms 127:1 . So the diligent hand and the blessing of God (meeting) make rich, Proverbs 10:4 ; Proverbs 10:22 .
But by every word, &c. ] That is, by anything else besides bread, whatsoever God shall think good, whatsoever he shall appoint and give power unto to be nourishment. Therefore if bread fail, feed on faith, Psalms 37:3 . Pascere fide: so Junius reads that text. Jehoshaphat found it sovereign when all other help failed him,2 Chronicles 20:6; 2 Chronicles 20:6 . And the captive Jews lived by faith, when they had little else to live upon, and made a good living of it, Habakkuk 2:4 . To this text the Jews seem to allude in that fiction of theirs, that Habakkuk was carried by the hair of the head, by an angel, into Babylon, to carry a dinner to Daniel in the den. (History of Bel and the Dragon, /Apc Bel 33-39) It was by faith that he "stopped the mouth of lions, and obtained promises," Hebrews 11:33 ; and by faith that she answered the persecutors, "If you take away my meat, I trust God will take away my stomach." (Eliz. Young, Acts and Monuments.) God made the ravens feed Elias, that were more likely (in that famine) to have fed upon his dead carcase; and another time caused him to go forty days in the strength of one meal, 1 Kings 19:8 . Merlyn was nourished a fortnight together with one egg a day, laid by a hen that came constantly to that haymow, where he lay hidden during the massacre of Paris. (French Chronicle.) And who hath not read or heard how, by a miracle of his mercy, God relieved Rochelle in a strait siege by an innumerable company of fishes cast in upon them? Carissima semper munera sunt, author quae preciosa facit. Faith fears no famine ( fides famem non formidat ); and although it be but small in substance and in show (as the manna was), yet is it great in virtue and operation. The rabbins say, that manna had all manner of good tastes in it: so hath faith. It drinks to a man in a cup of nepenthe, and bids him be of good cheer, God will provide for him. The Bishop of Norwich kept Robert Samuel, martyr, without food and drink, whereby he was unmercifully vexed, saving that he had every day allowed him two or three morsels of bread, and three spoonfuls of water, to the end he might be reserved to further torment. How often would he have drunk his own water! But his body was so dried up with long emptiness, that he was not able to make one drop of water. After he had been famished with hunger two or three days together, he fell into a sleep, as it were one half in a slumber; at which time one clothed in white seemed to stand before him, which ministered comfort unto him by these words, "Samuel, Samuel, be of good cheer, and take a good heart unto thee; for after this day thou shalt never be either hungry or thirsty;" for speedily after this he was burned, and from that time, till he should suffer, he felt neither hunger nor thirst. And this declared he, to the end, as he said, that all men might behold the wonderful work of God. (Acts and Monuments.) He likes not to be tied to the second ordinary causes, nor that (in defect of the means) we should doubt his providence. It is true, he commonly worketh by them, when he could do without, that we may not neglect the means, as being ordained of him. (David shall have victory, but by an ambush,2 Samuel 5:19-24; 2 Samuel 5:19-24 . Men shall be nourished, but by their labour, Psa 128:2 ) But yet so, as that he doth all in all by those means (he made grass, grain, and trees, before he made the sun, moon, and stars, by the influence whereof they are and grow). Yea, to show himself chief, he can and doth work, other whiles, without means 2 Chronicles 14:11 , and against means, suspending the power and operation of the natural causes as when the fire burnt not, the water drowned not, the sun went back ten degrees, the rock gave water, the iron swam, &c. And then, when he works by means, he can make them produce an effect diverse from their nature and disposition; or can hinder, change, or mitigate their proper effect; at the prayer of Elias it rained not for three years and a half. "And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit,"James 5:17-18; James 5:17-18 . A man would have thought that after such a long drought, the roots of trees and herbs should have been utterly dried up, and the land past recovery; but "God heard the heavens" (petitioning to him that they might exercise their influence for the fructifying of the earth), and the "heavens heard the earth, and the earth heard the grain, the wine, and the oil, and they heard Jezreel," Hosea 2:22 . Let all this keep us, as it did our Saviour here, from diffidence in God’s providence, and make us "possess our souls in patience," Luke 21:19 , hang upon the promise, and account it as good as present pay, though we see not how it can be effected. God loves to go away by himself. "He knows how to deliver his," saith St. Peter, 2 Peter 2:9 , and he might speak it by experience, Acts 12:9 , if ever any man might. "The king shall rejoice in God," saith David of himself when he was a poor exile in the wilderness of Judah, Psalms 63:11 . But he had God’s word for the kingdom, and therefore he was confident, seemed the thing ever so improbable or impossible. We trust a skilful workman to go his own way to work; shall we not God? In the sixth year of the reign of Darius Nothus was the Temple fully finished. That sacred work which the husband and son of an Esther crossed shall be happily accomplished by a bastard. The Israelites thought that Moses should presently have delivered them, and he himself thought as much, and therefore began before his time to do justice upon the Egyptian whom he slew and hid in the sand. But we see, God went another way to work; he sent Moses into a far country, and the bondage was for forty years after exceedingly increased upon them; yet all this to humble and try them, and to do them good in their latter end,Deuteronomy 8:2-3; Deuteronomy 8:2-3 . He crosseth many times our likeliest project, and gives a blessing to those times and means whereof we despair. He breaks in pieces the ship that we think should bring us to shore, but casts us upon such boards as we did not expect. Lose we then any particular means? saith one; it is but the scattering of a beam, the breaking of a bucket, when the sun and the fountain is the same. But we for the most part do as Hagar did: when the bottle was spent, she falls a crying she was undone, she and her child should die; till the Lord opened her eyes to see the fountain. It was near her but she saw it not; when she saw it she was well enough. "If thou hadst been here," said Martha, "my brother Lazarus had not died." As if Christ could not have kept him alive, unless he had been present. So if Christ will come and lay his hands on Jairus’ daughter, Mark 5:23 , and Elisha stroke his hand over Naaman’s leprosy, they shall be cured,2 Kings 5:11; 2 Kings 5:11 . So the disciples believed that Christ could feed so many thousands in the wilderness, but then he must have two hundred pennyworth of bread, Mark 6:37 . But our Saviour gave them, soon after, an ocular demonstration of this truth, "That man liveth not by bread alone," &c. "They shall be helped with a little help," Daniel 11:34 . Why a little? that through weaker means we may see God’s greater strength.
5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,
Ver. 5. Then the devil taketh him ] Not in vision only or imagination, but really and indeed, as he was afterwards apprehended, bound, and crucified by that cursed crew. Spiritual assaults may be beaten back by the shield of faith; bodily admit no such repulse. A daughter of Abraham may be bound by Satan,Luke 13:16; Luke 13:16 , a Mary Magdalene possessed, a Job vexed, a Paul boxed, &c. κολαφιζη , 2Co 12:7 As for the souls of the saints, they are set safe out of Satan’s scrape; shake his chain at them he may, muster his forces, Revelation 12:7 , which may band themselves and bend their strength against Michael and his angels, Christ and his members; but they are bounded by God, who hath set his own on a rock that is higher than they,Psalms 61:2; Psalms 61:2 . So that the floods of temptation (that the serpent casts out of his mouth after them) cannot come so much as to their feet, Psalms 32:6 . Or if it touch their heel, Genesis 3:15 , yet it can come no higher. There is no sorcery against Jacob, because God was a unicorn, Numbers 23:22-23 , to take away the venom (saith Balaam the sorcerer); as waters, when the unicorn’s horn hath been in them, are no longer poisonous, but healthful.
Into the holy city ] Things are called holy either by nature, as God, who is truly, alway, and only of himself holy; or by separation, or being set apart to a holy use or end; which Origen calleth (Homil. xi., Num.) sancta sanctificata, by accession of external holiness from without: so Jerusalem is here called holy, because the city of God, where he was daily worshipped. And for the same cause was the ground whereon Moses and Joshua trod, called holy ground, and Tabor, the holy Mount, 2 Peter 1:18 . And when we stand in our churches, saith Chrysostom, we stand in a place of angels and archangels, in the kingdom of God and heaven itself ( αυτος ουρανος , Homil. xxxvi., 1Co 11:10 ), which they that profane, may justly fear to be whipped like dogs out of the heavenly temple, and city too. And surely it were to be wished that such profane Esaus today, as dare prate, or sleep, or laugh, and play the parts of jesters, or do anything else unbeseeming the service of God, would keep themselves from God’s sanctuary, or that we had such porters to keep them out as they had under the law, 2 Chronicles 23:19 .
And setteth him upon a pinnacle of the temple ] Height of place giveth opportunity of temptation. The longest robe contracts the greatest soil: neither are any in so great danger as those that walk on the tops of pinnacles. Even height itself makes men’s brains to swim: as in Diocletian, who not content to be emperor, would needs be adored as a god; and Caligula, of whom it was said that there was never any better servant than he nor worse lord. Vespasian is reported to have been the only man that ever became better by the empire conferred upon him. Accepto imperio melior factus est. It is both hard and happy not to be made worse by advancement. Τιμη signifies both honour and loss; chabad, heaviness and honour; honoro and onero show that honour goeth not without a burden. Fructus honos oneris, fructus honoris onus. (Cornel. a Lapide in Num 11:11 ) Pope Plus Quintus said thus of himself, Cum essem religiosus, sperabam bene de salute animae meae; Cardinalis factus extimui; Pontifex creatus, pene despero. When I was first in orders, without any further ecclesiastical dignity, I had some good hopes of my salvation; when I became a cardinal, I had less; since I was made Pope, least of all. The same thoughts of himself had Clement VIII, his immediate successor, saith the same author. ( Non insulse Autor ocul. moral. cap. 12.) Praepositioni quot accident? Unum. Quid? Casus tantum. Quot casus? Duo. Qui? Accusativus, et ablativus. Haec enim Praelatum oportet timere, accusari a crimine, et auferri a regimine, et sic ignominiose cadere.
6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
Ver. 6. And he saith unto him ] The devil usually tempteth by speech, inward or outward. Senarclaeus (Epist. ad Bucerum) telleth of a plain countryman at Friburg in Germany, that lying on his deathbed, the devil came to him in the shape of a tall terrible man, and claimed his soul, saying, "Thou hast been a notorious sinner, and I am come to set down all thy sins;" and therewith he drew out paper and ink, and sat down at a table that stood by, and began to write. The sick man answered, "My soul is God’s, and all my sins are nailed to the cross of Christ. But if thou desire to set down my sins, write thus, ‘All our righteousnesses are as a filthy rag,’" &c. The devil set down that, and bid him say on. He did: "but thou, Lord, hast promised, for thine own sake, to blot out our iniquities, and to make our scarlet sins white as snow." The devil passed by those words, and was earnest with him to go on in his former argument. The sick man said with great cheerfulness, "The Son of God appeared to destroy the works of the devil." With that the devil vanished, and the sick man departed.
If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself, &c. ] This is the devil’s logic, to argue from mercy to liberty, to do wickedly with both hands earnestly, Micah 7:3 . Whereas the heathen could say, In maxima libertate, minima licentia. And the father, Ideo deteriores sumus, quia meliores esse debemus: therefore are we worse, because we ought to be better. (Salvian.) Remember but this, that thou art son to a king (said one to Antigonus), and that will keep thee from base courses. Take thou those spoils to thyself, Ανελου σαυτω (said Themistocles to his friend that followed him), συ γαρ ουκ ει θεμιστοκλης , for thou art not Themistocles, as I am: they are poor things, far below me. Shall such a man as I flee? Nehemiah 6:11 . Shall I do anything to the dishonour of my heavenly Father? and therefore sin, because grace hath abounded?Romans 8:1; Romans 8:1 ; that is not the guise of any of God’s children. They walk honestly, bravely, gallantly, worthy of God, who hath done so great things for them. καλως, ευσχημονως, αξιως του θεου . The more privileges, the more engagements. Scipio, when a harlot was offered unto him, said, Vellem, si non essem imperator. It was an aggravation of the fall of Solomon, that God had appeared unto him twice; and of Saul, that he fell as if he had not been anointed,1 Kings 11:9; 1 Kings 11:9 ; 2 Samuel 1:21 . So it is of any of God’s saints to sin, as if they had not been adopted.
Cast thyself down ] Here our Saviour is tempted to suicide, by an old manslayer. And when Moses, Elias, Jonah, and others of the best sort of saints, were in a fit of discontent, and grew weary of their lives, wishing for death, divines doubt not but Satan gave a push at them with his ten horns, to despatch and ease themselves of the present trouble by cutting off their own days. A dangerous and hideous temptation; yet such as may befall the best, and few escape it that live out their time. But in all the book of God we read not of any of the generation of the just that ever did it, Psalms 37:28 . That God who kept them, will (if we look up to him) do as much for us. Only we must set against this bloody temptation with God’s arm and with God’s armour. The word and prayer are the ordinances and power of God, and, by his might, do extinguish all the fiery darts of the devil. Oppose the commination to the temptation. Herein Eve faltered (in her lest ye die, though she held the precept), and so fell.
for it is written ] A vile abase of sacred Scripture, to persuade thereby to sin or plead for it; yet what more ordinary with men of corrupt minds and reprobate concerning the faith, 2 Timothy 3:8 . Qui caedem Scripturarum faciunt ad materiam suam, as Tertullian speaketh ( De Praescript, advers. Haeret. ), who murder the Scriptures to serve their own purposes? But of this more elsewhere.
He shall give his angels charge over thee ] Hitherto the old liar speaketh truth. But, Satan et si semel videatur verax, millies est mendax, et semper fallax, saith Bucholcer: Satan, though he may sometimes seem a true speaker, yet he is a thousand times for it a liar, and always a deceiver. Because our Saviour had alleged Scripture, he also would do the like in a perverse, apish imitation, but mars the masculine sense by clipping off that clause, "they shall keep thee in all thy ways;" that is, in those courses that are appointed thee by God. In viis nostris, non in praecipitiis. (Bern.) But as the Israelites in the wilderness, when they went out of God’s precincts were out of his protection, so are all others. "As a bird that wandereth from the nest, so is a man that wandereth from his own place," saith Solomon,Proverbs 27:8; Proverbs 27:8 . God made a law that none should molest a bird upon her nest,Deuteronomy 22:6; Deuteronomy 22:6 . Doth God take care of birds? A king undertaketh the safety of his subjects while they travel within due hours and keep the king’s highway; else not. So doth God. He hath given his angels charge over us while we hold his way, which is like Jacob’s ladder, where the angels were ascending and descending. Oh the dignity and safety of a saint, in a guard so full of state and strength! Well might David (after he had said, "the angel of the Lord pitcheth his tent round about them that fear him") presently subjoin, Taste and see bow gracious the Lord is, in allowing his children so glorious an attendance, Psalms 34:7-8 .
And with their hands they shall lift thee up, &c. ] As parents use to lift their little ones over rough and foul ways; or as servants in a house love to get up into their arms their young master. επι χειρων, in manus: ducta ab iis, significationis origine, qui onus aliquod gestaturi attollunt in humeros. (Beza.) In Christ and for Christ, they count it their greatest glory to do us any good office for soul or body; they save us from the foul fiends that else would worry us. These walk about as lions to devour us while alive, and to hinder our passage to heaven when we die; the other, as guardians, to keep us here, and to convey and conduct us through the devil’s territories (who is prince of the air) when we go hence to heaven, Luke 16:22 , in despite of the evil angels that would intercept us, Daniel 10:21 .
Lest thou dash thy foot against a stone ] Oh the tender care of our heavenly Father; he is so kind, and, in the best sense, fond over his little ones, that he cannot abide the cold wind should blow upon them, as we say, and hath therefore commanded "that the sun shall not smite them by day, nor the moon by night,"Psalms 121:6; Psalms 121:6 ; yea, which way soever the wind fit, it must blow good to his; "Arise, O north, and blow, O south, upon any beloved, that her spices may flow forth," Song of Solomon 4:16 . What so contrary as north and south wind, cold and hot, moist and dry? &c. Yet both must blow good to God’s beloved. Well might God exalt his love above that of natural parents, which yet is wondrous great, saith the psalmist, Psalms 103:13 .
7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
Ver. 7. Jesus answered and said, It is written again ] Christ rejects not the Holy Scriptures, although perversely alleged and abused by Satan, but openeth them, by laying one place to another. So did those holy Levites in Nehemiah 8:7 , and St Paul in Acts 9:22 . συμβιβαζων , Collatis testimoniis demonstrans. Parallel texts, like glasses set one against another, cast a mutual light. And, as the lapidary brighteneth his hard diamond with the dust shaved from itself; so must we clear hard Scriptures by others that are more plain and perspicuous.
Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God ] Trust him we must, tempt him we may not. Now God is tempted, either when men are too much addicted to the means, as Thomas; or when they reject them, as Ahaz, who refused a sign and ran to unlawful means, hiding all under this, I will not tempt God, Isaiah 7:12 . Heathens could say, Admota manu invocanda est Minerva, and they noted him for a foolish carter, that when his cart stuck fast, cried to his god, and moved his lips, but not his hands to help himself. "If thou callest for knowledge," saith Solomon, "and criest for understanding"-there is prayer to God; "if thou seekest her as silver, and searcheth for her as for hidden treasures"-there is man’s endeavour in the diligent use of the means; "then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God"-there is the happy success,Proverbs 2:3-5; Proverbs 2:3-5 . Ora et labora Ask and work, was an emperor’s motto. (Reusneri Symb.) St Augustine sets it down as a vanity of his youth, that he prayed God to help him against some special sins whereunto he was strongly addicted, but should have been full sorry that God should have heard him, because he was loth to part with them. How much better was that prayer Sir Thomas Moore, Domine Deus, fac me in iis com sequendis operam collocare, pro quibus obtinendis soleo ad te orare; " Lord God, make me to bestow pains in getting those things, for obtaining whereof I use to pray unto thee."
8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;
Ver. 8. Again the devil taketh him ] This master fly Beelzebub, though beaten away once and again, yet returns to the same place. See how shameless he is in renewing his temptations after a flat repulse. He solicits and sets upon our Saviour again (as Potiphar’s wife did upon Joseph, for all his many denials), and is not only importunate, but impudent. Stand we therefore still upon our guard, and look for no ease here. The Roman captains, when they had once triumphed, took their ease ever after. No so with Cato, and is therefore highly commended. So may not we if ever we will be approved as good soldiers of Jesus Christ, 2 Timothy 2:3 . Our whole life is a continual warfare, and we must look for the continual hail shot, hell shot of satanical assaults and suggestions. ( Hannibal victor vel victus nunquam quiescebat. Ita nec diabolus. ) When Xerxes fought against the Greeks, "the sea was full of ships," saith the orator, "the earth of soldiers, the air of arrows," πληρης ην η μεν θαλασσα νεων, η δε γη πεζων, ο δε αηρ βελων . So fares it with the saints under Satan’s batteries: no truce, but continual conflict. Ever since these two strong men fought, there is no more peace. St Paul sounds the alarm, "Arm, arm! take the whole armour of God and be ever in your harness," πανοπλιαν , Ephesians 6:11 . And St Peter gives the reason, "Because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh, and watcheth, night and day, seeking whom he may devour." This he doth out of his contrariety to God who careth for us, 1 Peter 5:7-8 . For our encouragement, as the devil is Leo ωρυομενος , a roaring lion, so is Christ Leo de tribu Iuda, ο ρυομενος , the lion of the tribe of Judah, that delivereth us, and maketh us more than conquerors; holding the crown of glory over our heads (as we are fighting), with this inscription, Vincenti dabo, " To him that overcometh will I give," &c. ( Christus est αγωνοθετης , idem et antagonista, qui immittit et dirigit tentationes nostras. Pareus.) Fight therefore and faint not, your reward is sure, your armour is of proof. Get on both those pieces of defence (as the girdle of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shoes of peace and patience, shield of faith, helmet of hope) and those also of offence, as the sword of the Spirit and darts of prayer. And then resolve with that aged citizen of Exeter in King Edward VI’s time, who when the town was besieged, said, "That he would feed on the one arm and fight with the other, before he would consent to yield the city to the seditions." (Hayward’s Life of Edward VI) it is said of Sceva at the siege of Dyrrachium, that he so long resisted Pompey’s army that he had 220 darts sticking in his shield and lost one of his eyes, and yet gave not over till Caesar came to his rescue ( Densamque ferebat pectore sylvam Lucan); and of Sir Thomas Challoner (who died A.D. 1566), that he served in his younger time under Charles V in the expedition of Algiers, where being shipwrecked, after he had swum till his strength and his arms failed him, at length catching hold of a cable with his teeth, he escaped, not without the loss of some of his teeth. The like (and somewhat more) is reported of Cynegirus the Athenian in the Persian wars. These did thus for a corruptible crown or temporary honour; what should not we do for an eternal?1 Corinthians 9:25; 1 Corinthians 9:25 . Hold out, and hold fast that which thou hast, that no man take thy crown from thee, Revelation 3:11 . Be of Queen Elizabeth’s disposition, who provided for war even when she had most perfect peace with all men. God’s Spirit sets up a standard in the saints, Isaiah 59:19 ; "And stronger is he that is in you than he that is in the world." That old serpent hath his head so bruised and crushed by Christ that he cannot now so easily thrust in his mortal sting, though he assay it never so often, unless we dally with him and lay ourselves open, unless we tempt Satan to tempt us by inconsideration, security, or venturing on the occasion. Vitanda est glacies, si nolis cadere. He that tastes of the broth will have a mind to the meat. The Nazarites might not only not drink wine, but forbear to eat of the grape whether moist or dried,Numbers 6:3; Numbers 6:3 .
Into an exceeding high mountain ] Whether mountains were made at first or cast up by the flood, there are those who dispute. I think, made at first, Psalms 90:2 . Yet is the earth round (as an apple is, notwithstanding some knots and bunches in it). And that being round, and so naturally apt for motion (as the heavens are), it stands firm and unmoveable, Ecclesiastes 1:3 : this is admirable. God hath hanged it upon nothing, saith Job, Job 26:7 in the midst of the heaven; like Archimedes’ pigeon, equally poised with its own weight. But why took he our Saviour into so high a mountain? That he might thence have the fairer prospect. And perhaps in imitation of God taking up Moses into the mount. The devil delights to be God’s ape, that he may by counterfeiting the like to God, bring his holy ordinances into disgrace. Thus the heathens had their sacrifices, washings, tithes, oracles, &c. Vitruvius and others tell us that the temple of Diana at Ephesus and her image therein were made of cedar. So for Christ bruising the serpent’s head, Satan hath set up Hercules killing the Lernaean Hydra. Which fable who seeth not plainly to have been hatched in hell, and suggested to the poets, in an apish imitation of God, merely to elude his oracle? The like may be said of the fable of Orpheus his wife, suddenly snatched from him, for looking back upon her: which was made out of the story of Lot’s wife. So their Hercules with his ten labours was the Scripture Samson. And their Sethon, king of Egypt, and priest of Vulcan (who was helped from heaven by his god against Sennacherib, king of Assyria, that invaded him), who could it be else but Hezekiah, king of Judah? Ita diabolus (operum Dei Momus) per Egyptios hoc egit, ut divinum Miraculum in Iudaea editum vilesceret, fidem et authoritatem amitteret, et tanti operis gloria ad turpissima idola rediret. (Bucholcer.) Thus the devil attempted by his Egyptians to transfer the glory of a divine miracle upon himself.
And showeth him all the kingdoms of the earth ] In their beauty and bravery. A bewitching sight, doubtless, and would have moved much with a carnal heart. (This world at the last day shall be burnt for a witch.) But here the devil’s fire fell upon wet tinder, and therefore took not. Gain and glory! rule and riches! Quis nisi mentis inops, &c. Who but the weak minded. Set but a wedge of gold in sight, and Joshua (that could stay the course of the sun) cannot stay Achan from lusting and laying hold on it. Balaam’s ass never gallops fast enough after preferment. And Zimri will have his Cozbi, though he die for it. These three enchantresses, "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life," 1 John 2:15-16 , -pleasure, profit, and preferment (the worldly man’s Trinity)-whom have they not bewitched, befooled, bebeasted? St John showeth that a man may be very mortified, a father, yet wondrous subject to dote on the world. Of the which, nevertheless, we may say (as Aaron of the people) it is wholly set upon wickedness, Exodus 32:22 ; or, as another sometimes said of a historian, "Both the words and shows of it are full of fraud." ( Δολερα μεν τα σχηματα, δολερα δε τα ρηματα Plutarch de Herodot.) It promiseth (as the devil here) great matters, but payeth, pro thesauro carbones, instead of mines, coal pits. Captain Frobisher, in his voyage to discover the Straits, being tossed up and down with foul weather, snows, and inconstant winds, returned home, having gathered a great quantity of stones, which he thought to be minerals: from which, when there could be drawn neither gold nor silver, nor any other metal, we have seen them cast forth (saith Mr Camden) to mend the highways. How often do the devil and the world give men stones and serpents instead of fish and bread, even the bread of deceit, Proverbs 20:17 , that proves gravel in the teeth! How often are they disappointed that hunt after lying vanities, and so forsake their own mercies! as Jonah freely acknowledged, Jon 2:8 for it had like to have cost him a choking. What got Balaam by running after his wages of wickedness, but a sword in his ribs?Numbers 31:8; Numbers 31:8 . Achan by his wedge, but the stones about his ears? Judas by his thirty pieces, but the halter about his neck? Cranmer by his subscription, but such a wretched condition, as that there were left him neither hope of better nor place of worse, as Cole could say in a sermon at his recantation? Adeo ut neque spem meliori, nec locum peiori fortunae reliquerit. Ut iam nec honeste mori, nec vivere inhoneste liceret. (Melch. Adam.) Many of the Romish renagades, that run thither for preferment, what little respect have they oftentimes, and as little content in their change! Rossensis had a cardinal’s hat sent him, but his head was cut off before it came. Allin had a cardinal’s hat, but with so thin lining (means, I mean, to support his state) that he was commonly called "the starving Cardinal." Stapleton was made professor of a petty university, scarcely so good as one of our free schools in England. Saunders was starved. William Rainolds was nominated to a poor vicarage under value. On Harding his Holiness bestowed a prebend a of Gaunt, or, to speak more properly, a gaunt prebend. Many others get not anything, so that they wish themselves at home again; and sometimes return in the same discontent in which they went.
And the glory thereof ] Wherewith he hoped to dazzle our Saviour’s eyes (those windows of the soul), and so to imprison his affections. But he mistook himself. This heavenly eagle had oculum irretortum: eyes that see backwards, nothing moved with these tempting objects. But how many are there, alas, that have died of the wound of the eye! that have fallen by the hand of this vile strumpet, the world; who by laying forth her two fair breasts of profit and pleasure, hath cast down many wounded, as Solomon’s harlot, Proverbs 7:26 ; and by the glittering of her pomp and preferment hath misled millions; as the going fire leads men into hedges and ditches, or as the serpent Scytale, which when she cannot overtake the fleeing passengers, doth with her beautiful colours astonish and amaze them, so that they have no power to pass away till she have stung them to death. (Pliny.)
a The portion of the revenues of a cathedral or collegiate church granted to a canon or member of the chapter as his stipend. ŒD
9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.
Ver. 9. And he saith unto him, All these things will I give thee ] A great catch sure: even just nothing; for he showed our Saviour only shows and shadows, apparitions and resemblances of things. The word also used in the former verse for "glory" signifieth an opinion or imagination ( Δυξα .) So St Luke styles all Agrippa’s pomp, but a fantasy, Acts 25:23 , μετα πολλης φαντασιας . David tells us, that man walketh in a vain shadow, Psalms 39:6 . Now a shadow is something in appearance, nothing in substance. So the apostle calleth all these things that the devil proffers our Saviour, σχημα , an accidental mathematical figure, without solidity or substance; and further tells us that this figure passeth away, is ever in transitu,1 Corinthians 7:31; 1 Corinthians 7:31 , παραγω , like the streams of a river, that passing by the sides of a city, no man can stop: or if we could retain the things of this life, yet, not the world only passeth away, saith the apostle, but the lusts thereof, 1 John 2:17 . So that a man cannot make his heart delight in the same thing still. Vota post usam fastidio sunt. We loathe after a while what we lusted after (as Amnon did Tamar), and quickly find a satiety, yea, a dissatisfaction in the creature. For he that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver, not though he could heap up his hoards to the stars, and engross a monopoly of all the wealth in the world, απαντων η πλησμονη , Ecclesiastes 5:10 . Non plus satiatur cor auro, quam corpus aura. You may as soon fill a bag with wisdom, a chest with virtue, or a circle with a triangle, as the heart of man with anything here below. All that earth can afford is fumus aut funus, saith one; nugae et μορμολυκειν , saith another; vanity and vexation, saith Solomon the wise: to whose impartial verdict (grounded upon such good experience) we shall do well to subscribe, without believing the devil’s cracks, or trying any further conclusions. The Centurists interpret "all these things will I give thee," thus: I will make thee pope. And indeed many popes were advanced to that see immediately by the devil, as histories relate; who had they but observed what is usually done at their enthronization, would never have been so hasty. For before the pope is set in his chair, and puts on his triple crown, a piece of tow or wad of straw is set on fire before him, and one appointed to say, Sic transit gloria mundi the glory of this world is but a blaze. This is only matter of form and ceremony; as is also that, that one day in the year the pope’s alms giver rides before him, casting abroad to the poor certain pieces of brass and lead, saying, Silver and gold I have none, but such as I have I give you; whereas that scarlet whore holds a golden cup in her hand, and her merchants that trade with her are the nobles of the earth, Revelation 18:9-17 , and are made rich by her, Revelation 18:15 . (Pareus in Apoc.) The Cardinal of Toledo hath a hundred thousand pounds a year coming in; the archbishops of Germany are free princes, many of them, and have revenues accordingly. Petrarch reporteth that in the treasury of Pope John XXII were found after his death 250 tons of gold. And of Boniface VIII the story is told, that when he was taken by Philip the Fair, King of France, and his palace rifled, there was more treasure found than all the kings of the earth were able to show again. Otto, one of the Pope’s mice catchers ( muscipulatores ), as the story calleth them, sent hither by Gregory IX, after three years raking together of money by most detestable arts, at last departing hence, he left not so much money in the whole kingdom as he either carried with him or sent before him. Judge by this what they did throughout all Christendom. The pope, saith one, could never want money so long as he could hold a pen in his hand. It was truly and trimly said by Pope Innocent IV, Vere hortus deliciarum Papis fuit tum Anglia, et puteus inexhaustns. Thus it was then; but how now? Bellarmine complains that since the pope was cried down for antichrist, his kingdom hath not only not increased, but every day more and more decreased. Non mode non crevit eius imperiam, sed semper magis ac magis decrevit. And Cotton the Jesuit confesseth that the authority of the pope of Rome is incomparably less than it was; and that now the Christian Church is but a diminutive. Hereupon also the cardinals (who were wont to meet more often) meet but once a week, because the businesses of the court of Rome grow fewer. And albeit the pope’s good and his blood, his honours and manners, rose together; yet abates he as little of his former pomp and pride as the devil doth since his fall ( Os Papae et oculus Diaboli, in eodem sunt praedicamento. Sphinx.), in taking upon him here to dispose of all the kingdoms of the earth as his, and requiring our Saviour (the true Lord of all) to fall down and worship him. The cardinals he still createth with these words, Estote fratres nostri et principes mundi, shall be our brothers and leaders of the world. And as another Diocletian (who was the first that affected that honour), he holdeth forth his feet to be kissed, having the sign of the cross shining with pearls and precious stones upon his shoe, Ut plenis faucibus crucem Christi derideat, So with a full gullet he mocks the cross of Christ, saith mine author. Stratagema nunc est Pontificium, ditare multos, ut pii esse desinant. In a word, with his pomp and primacy, gain and glory, rule and riches, fat bishoprics and cardinalships, as he sought to insnare Luther and gain him to his side, so he gets and binds not a few fast to that rotten religion. Pauper Lutherus multos fecit divites, Poor Luther made many rich men, said Erasmus; it being then the ready way to preferment to write and rail against Luther, as Eccius, Coccius, and others found it. But Christ will one day whip such money merchants and their customers out of his house, as he did those in the Gospel, John 2:15 ; chase them out of his presence, as Nehemiah did Sanballat’s son-in-law; curse them with a curse that "run greedily after the error of Balaam for reward," Judges 1:11 . Let the Romish Balak offer as large as the devil doth here, every one that hath anything of Christ in him will answer with that noble Italian convert (Galeaceus Caracciolus, Marquess of Vico in Naples), who being tempted by a Jesuit to revolt for money, cried out, "Let their money perish with them, who esteem all the gold in the world worth one day’s society with Jesus Christ, and his Holy Spirit. And cursed be that religion for ever," &c. At Augsburg there is a known price of ten florins a year to all who will turn Papists. (Crashaw’s Life of Sandys.)
If thou wilt fall down and worship me ] Luke saith, "Worship before me." So that to worship before an idol is to worship the idol, whatever the Romanist pretend and plead to the contrary. And not only so, but to fall down, as the devil would have had our Saviour here (though it be not come to worshipping), is a grievous sin. St John had not yet worshipped the angel, but only fallen down, as desirous to worship, and is taken up by the angel for that idolatrous gesture, Revelation 19:10 . Woe then to those Rimmonites that plead for an upright soul in a prostrate body; and allege for their warrant that of Apocryphal Baruch, Apc Bar 6:5-6 "Wherefore when ye see the multitude of people worshipping them behind and before, say ye in your hearts, O Lord, it is thou that oughtest only to be worshipped." Serve we God with our bodies also; and say with David and Christ, "Lord, a body hast thou given me; Lo, I come to do thy will therewith,"Psalms 40:8; Psalms 40:8 . But what a desperate and detestable boldness was it in the devil to move speech of such a sin as this to our Saviour Christ. It was extreme sauciness in Satan to adjure our Saviour (whom he there calls the Son of the most high God) not to torment him; it was horrible impudence; but nothing comparable to this in the text, to worship the devil in person: than which what can be imagined more odious? We see then to what execrable sins the best may be tempted. A man is to expect (saith Capel on Temptation), if he lived out his days, to be urged to all sins, to the breach of every branch of the ten commandments; and to be put to it in respect of every article of our creed. Have you not been tempted, saith another, in this or that kind? it is because God in mercy would not lead you into temptation. (Bain’s Letters.) Yea, this is, in some sort, more to be acknowledged than victory, when ye were tempted. For not to be tempted is more immediately from God, and less in man’s power, than to prevail against temptation. For nothing doth overcome us without our will: but without our will doth God lead us into trial; for he knoweth we would taste little of these if we might be our own carvers. "Simon, Simon," saith our Saviour, "Satan hath desired to have you to minnow you," that is to trouble and hurt you, Luke 22:31 , ταραξαι και βλαψαι , saith Theophylact, as a challenger desireth to have one of the other side to combat with; as Goliah called for a man to match him. Now either God denies him, or delivers us, so that evil one toucheth us not,1 John 5:18; 1 John 5:18 , viz. Tactu qualitavito, with a mortal touch, as Cajetan glosseth that text. "I have prayed for thee," saith our Saviour, "that thy faith fail not." He prayed for all, but especially for Peter, because more violently tempted, as because more shamefully foiled; therefore, "Go tell my disciples and Peter, that I am risen; and that thereby he is justified," Mark 16:7 ; Romans 4:25 . I have prayed; so that the remedy was ready made before the disease, the salve before the sore, or else it might have come too late; as those that are stung by a scorpion, if they be not presently anointed with oil of scorpions, die for it: and as those that have drunk poison, if they take not an antidote immediately, ere it get to the vitals, perish infallibly. God in Christ hath all plaisters and pardons ready made and sealed, else we might die in our sins while the pardon is providing.
10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
Ver. 10. Get thee hence, Satan ] Avaunt, avoid, be packing! This was an indignity not to be endured, as great, every way, as if the basest scoundrel upon earth should assault the chastity of the greatest empress. Our Saviour therefore will endure him no longer, but commands him out of his presence, with utmost indignation. And surely madness, in case of God’s dishonour, is far better than meekness. Here, if "we be beside ourselves, it is to God," as Paul said, 2 Corinthians 5:13 ; and as he did, when he dealt with Elymas, the firstborn of the devil, when he saw him perverting the deputy; "he set his eyes upon him," saith the text, as if he would have run through him. After which lightning follows that terrible thunder crack, "O full of all subtilty and of all mischief," &c. Agnosce te primogeniturn diaboli. Sic Cerintho Ioannes Apostolus. Acts 13:9-10 . So the angel of Ephesus could not abide those counterfeits, Revelation 2:2 . Nor could David brook the workers of iniquity: he casteth down the gauntlet of defiance against them, as his utter enemies, he "hateth them with a perfect hatred," Psalms 139:21-22 . Hezekiah pulled down the brazen serpent (when the people idolized it), and called it a piece of brass. And Josiah would not let stand the horses of the sun and other monuments of idolatry, upon any entreaty. King Edward VI, being laboured by some of his best friends to permit the Lady Mary his sister to have mass in her house, answered, He would rather spend his life, and all he had, than agree and grant to that he knew certainly to be against the truth. (Acts and Mon.) And another time, in his message to the rebels of Devonshire: "Assure you most surely," said he, "that we of no earthly thing under heaven make such reputation as of this one, to have our law obeyed, and this cause of God which we have taken in hand to be thoroughly maintained; from the which we will never remove a hair’s breadth, or give place to any creature living, much less to any subject; wherein we will spend our own royal person, our crown, treasure, realm, and all our state, whereof we assure you of our high honour." (Acts and Mon.) Now, God’s blessing be on that blessed heart that hath such a stomach against God’s dishonour; and can entertain all wicked attempts and assaults with this Apage of our Saviour. And woe to them that cry Euge to such. Whether we say to the tempter, as our Saviour did, "Get thee hence," and not rather, as the angel, "The Lord rebuke thee," Judges 1:9 , is questioned by some; because it is only to command the devil. But that we may and must say to him, no man doubts, as our Saviour did to the Pharisees, "Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?" Matthew 22:18 ; as Naboth did to Ahab, "God forbid me any such wickedness," 1 Kings 21:3 ; as Solomon to his mother, "Ask the kingdom also;" as the witch of Endor to Saul, "Why seekest thou to take me in a snare, to cause me to die?" 1 Samuel 28:9 . Thus, "Resist," saith Peter 1 Peter 5:9 ; "Stand fast," saith Paul, Ephesians 6:14 , νικαν παρα το νε εικειν . Resist, and Satan will flee, he is but a coward. Stand, and then Satan will fall. Not to yield is to conquer: if he cast us not down, we are then accepted, as if we did cast him down. We do "over overcome," saith that great apostle, υπερνικωμεν , Romans 8:37 , because in our head, Christ, we overcome before we fight, and are sure of victory,Revelation 12:1; Revelation 12:1 . Quare apage sis, diabole, et tela tua in hoc semen mulieris converte: hunc si viceris, me quoque viceris, said one; Devil, do thy worst to Christ: conquer him, and take all (Solomon Gonerus apud Melch. Adam.)
For it is written ] This two-edged sword our Saviour had found to be metal of proof, and therefore holds him to it. Only the Scriptures scare the devil, as only faithful prayer can charm him. Isaiah 26:16 , prayer is called לחש , a charm. Athanasius writeth that evil spirits may be put to flight by that Psalm: Psa 68:1 "Let the Lord arise, and his enemies be confounded." But this is true of the whole word of God, which is armour of proof against the devil.
Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God ] "Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God," saith Moses. So Matthew 15:9 ; cf. Isaiah 29:13 . See Psalms 2:11 ; Joshua 24:14 ; Hebrews 12:28 . Solomon sets the fear of God as the basis and beginning of God’s work and worship, in the beginning of his works, Proverbs 1:7 . And again, in the end of them, makes it the end and upshot of all. For they "that fear the Lord will keep his covenant," Psalms 103:13-18 . Yea, they will work hard at it, as afraid to be taken with their tasks undone, Acts 10:35 . Deum si quis parum metuit, valde contemnit; huius qui non memorat beneficentiam, auget iniuriam. (Fulgent.) They will give him both the shell of outward adoration and the kernel of inward devotion; truly, without halting; and totally, without halving: truly, both for matter and manner; totally, both for subject and object; as David, who did all the wills of God, θεληματα , and with all his heart, all the days of his life, Acts 13:36 . The Gentiles could say, that God must be worshipped η ολως υη ολως , either to our utmost, or not at all. And Plutarch compares our duty to a certain fish, which eaten sparingly hurteth; but being eaten up all, is medicinal.
And him only shalt thou serve ] With inward worship, as before with outward. And so God only is to be served; for it supposeth Omniscience, Omnipresence, and Omnipotence, which are in none else but God. Sunt qui colendi verbum, απο του κολακευειν dictum volunt, eo quod plerunque Dei hominumque cultus cum adulatione et hypocrisi est coniunctus. Sic a λατρευειν , Gallicum et nostrate flatter. Sic adorare quidam dictum volunt ab ore, tametsi menta magis quam ore vera fiat adoratio. Quinetiam adorare antiquis idem fuit quod agere.
11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.
Ver. 11. Then the devil left him ] If Christ command him away, there is no abiding for him. Here he was foiled and queried, and, as it were, cast down and killed, by Christ our champion. (Stuchius de sacrific. Gentilium. ) He came into the field like another Goliah, cracking and calling craven, but ere he went thence, was made to hop headless, as he first a terror, afterwards a scorn, as it was anciently said of those chariots armed with scythes and hooks. Charles VIII, in his expedition against Naples, came into the field like thunder and lightning, but went out like a snuff: more than a man at first, less than a woman at last. Henceforth, therefore, though we are ever to expect temptations till such time as we have gotten that great gulf between the devil and us, Luke 16:26 , yet "fear none of those things that ye shall suffer," Nulla maior tentatio quam nulla tentatione pulsari. Behold, the devil shall (by his imps and instruments) cast some of you (not all) into prison (not into hell), that ye may be tried (not destroyed), and ye shall have tribulation ten days (so long, and no longer). "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life,"Revelation 2:10; Revelation 2:10 . Satan can look for no crown, he is in perdition already. His aim and endeavour is, to draw us into the same condemnation. This we escape, if we resist, steadfast in the faith: for then he perceives Christ, "the chief Captain of our salvation," to be there; and therefore flees his presence, ever since he felt his prowess. Chrysostom saith, that by the sacrament of the Lord’s supper we are so armed against Satan’s temptations, that he fleeth from us no otherwise than if we were so many leones ignem expuentes, lions that spit fire. It is not silly people’s defying the devil and spitting at his name, that avails anything: for they spit not low enough; they spit him not out of their hearts: yea, they admit him thereinto by yielding to his suggestions; and are miserably foolish, as if men should startle at the name of fire, and yet not fear to be scorched with the flame thereof. Our safest way is to run to Ithiel and Ucal, as Agur did, Proverbs 30:1-2 , to Christ "the author and finisher of our faith," Hebrews 12:2 ; who here gave the devil such an inglorious foil, trampled him in the mire, triumphed over him, and hath promised to "tread him under our feet shortly,"Romans 16:20; Romans 16:20 .
And, lo, the angels came and ministered unto him ] Perhaps food to his body, as once to Elias, 1 Kings 19:5-6 , but certainly comfort to his soul, as to Jacob, Hagar, Daniel, Zacharias, Joseph, Cornelius, Paul, &c. Daniel 9:21 ; Luke 1:11 ; Acts 10:4 ; Acts 27:23 . Socrates and Theodoret tell us of one Theodorus, a martyr, put to extreme torments by Julian the apostate, and dismissed again by him, when he saw him unconquerable. Ruffinus tells us that he met with this martyr, a long time after this trial, and asked him, "whether the pain he felt were not insufferable?" He answered, "that at first it was somewhat grievous; but after a while, there seemed to stand by him a young man in white, who with a soft and comfortable handkerchief wiped off the sweat of his body (which through extreme pain and anguish was little less than blood) and bade him be of good cheer. Insomuch as that it was rather a punishment than a pleasure to him to be taken off the rack, since, when the tormentors had done, the angel was gone. And how many unspeakable comforts ministered the good angels to the modern martyrs in their prisons, at the stake, and in the fire! Christ indeed was not comforted by them till the temptation was over; but to us they minister, many times, in the hour of temptation. They have power over the devils to restrain them; and (though invisibly and insensibly) are as ready to help and comfort us as the evil angels to tempt and trouble us: else were not our protection equal to our danger, and we could neither stand nor rise. An angel stood at Zacharias’ right hand, Luke 1:11 ; (as the devil did at Joshua’s, Zec 3:1 ), to show how ready and handy they are to defend and support the saints. It was as he was burning incense. The angels are busiest about us when we are in God’s work: which to set forth, the hangings of the tabernacle of old were full of cherubims within and without. He said unto him, "Fear not, Zacharias." The blessed spirits (though they do not often vocally express it) do pity our human frailties, and secretly suggest comfort to us, when we perceive it not. Alway they stand looking on the face of God to receive commandments, for the accomplishment of all designs for our good; which they have no sooner received than they readily despatch, even with weariness of flight, as Daniel 9:21 , with so much swiftness, as if they had wearied themselves with flying. I read of a friar that undertook to show to the people a feather of the wing of the angel Gabriel. A plume of whose feathers it might better have become the pope to send to Tyrone the Irish rebel, than that plume of phoenix feathers he sent to honour and encourage him: had his Holiness such command over angels, as they say he hath, or did he not rather collude in one thing, as that friar did in another (Carleton’s Thankful Rem. of God’s Mercies.
12 Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee;
Ver. 12. Now when Jesus heard that John was cast into prison ] For Herodias’ sake, though under pretexts of fear of sedition, because of the great multitudes that followed and admired him, as Josephus hath it. This hath ever been an ordinary accusation cast upon the most innocent, to be seedsmen of sedition, and troublers of the state. Jeremiah was held and called a traitor, Elijah a troubler of Israel, Paul a pest, ευρηκαμεν τουτον τον λοιμον , Acts 24:5 . Luther, tuba rebellionis, the trumpet of rebellion, &c. Invenies apud Tacitum frequentatas accusationes maiestatis, unicum crimen eorum qui crimine vacabant, saith Lipsius. There was some colour of right, yea, of piety, laid upon the French massacre, and by edicts, a fair cloak sought to cover the impious fraud, as if there had been some wicked conspiracy plotted by the Protestants against the king, the queen mother, the king’s brethren, the king of Navarre, and the princes of the blood. For there was coin stamped in memory of the matter, in the forepart whereof (together with the king’s picture) was this inscription, Virtus in rebellea Power in the rebellion, And on the other side, Pietas excitavit iustitiam. Loyalty stirs up justice. Not many years before this, Francis, king of France, when he would excuse to the princes of Germany (whose friendship he then sought after) that cruelty he had exercised against the Protestants, he gave out that he punished Anabaptists only, that bragged of enthusiasm, and cried down magistracy, stirring up the people to sedition as they had done not long before in Germany. (Scultet. Annul.) This foul aspersion cast upon true religion gave occasion to Calvin (then a young man of 25 years of age) to set forth that incomparable work, called his Institutions of Christian Religion, concerning which, Paulus Melissus long since sang,
" Praeter Apostolicas post Christi tempera chartas,
Huic peperere libro saecula nulla parem. "
Since Christ’s and the apostles’ time no such book hath been written.
He departed into Galilee ] Succenturiatus prodit Ioanni, saith a learned interpreter. He therefore went into Galilee (which was under Herod’s government) to be, as it were, a supply and successor to John, whom Herod had imprisoned. How well might the tyrant say of the Church, as those Persians did of the Athenians, βαλλομεν, ου πιπτουσι, τιτρωσκομεν, ου φοβεονται . "We overturn them, and yet they fall not; we wound them, and yet they fear not." (Stobaeus.) St Basil bade the persecuted Christians tell the tyrants with a bold and brave spirit, Εαν γαρ παλιν ισχυητε. παλιν ηττηθησεσθε . "If ye prevail again, yet surely ye shall be overcome again." (Enarr. in Isa 8:10 ) For there is neither power nor policy against the Lord. Charles V (than whom all Christendom had not a more prudent prince, nor the Church of Christ (almost) a sorer enemy), when he had in his hand Luther dead, and Melancthon and Pomeran, and certain other preachers of the gospel, alive, he not only determined not anything extremely against them, or violated their graves, but also entreating them gently, sent them away, not so much as once forbidding them to publish openly the doctrine that they professed. (Acts and Mon.) For it is the nature of Christ’s Church, the more that persecutors spurn against it, the more it flourisheth and increaseth, as the palm tree spreadeth and springeth the more it is oppressed; as the bottle or bladder, that may be dipped, not drowned; as the oak, that taketh heart to grace from the maims and wounds given it, and sprouts the thicker; as fenugreek, a which the worse it is handled (saith Pliny) the better it proves. ( Duris ut ilex tonsa bipennibus, per damna, per caedes ab ipso ducit opes animumque ferro. Horat.) This made Arrius Antoninus (a cruel persecutor in Asia) cry out to the Christians, who came by troops to his tribunal, and proclaimed themselves Christians (so offering themselves to death): O miseri, si libet perire, num vobis rupes aut testes desunt? (Tertul. ad Scapulam. Ω δειλοι, ει θελετε αποθνησκειν, κρημνους, η βροχους εχετε .) "O wretched men, if ye be so desirous to die, have you neither rocks nor halters wherewith to despatch yourselves?" Diocletian, after he had in vain done his utmost to blot out Christ’s name from under heaven, and could not effect it (such was the constancy of the primitive Christians, that no sufferings could frighten or discourage them, but that they grew upon him daily, do what he could to the contrary), laid down the empire in great discontent, and betook himself (as Charles V also did) to a private course of life. (Bucholcer, Chronol.) As lambs breed in winter, and quails come with the wind, Numbers 11:31 , so good preachers and people spring most in hard times. No fowl is more preyed upon hy hawks, kites, &c., than the pigeon, yet are there more doves than hawks or kites for all that, saith Optatus. μικρον ποιμνιον, Luke 12:32 . So the sheep; and so the sheep of Christ: "A little little flock," he calleth it, but such as all the wolves on earth and devils in hell cannot possibly devour. The Christians of Calabria suffered great persecution, A.D. 1560; for being all thrust up in one house together, as in a sheepfold, the executioner cometh in, and among them taketh one, and blindfoldeth him with a muffler about his eyes, and so leadeth him forth into a larger place, where he commandeth him to kneel down; which being done he cutteth his throat, and so leaving him half dead, and taking his butcher’s knife and muffler all of gore blood, cometh again to the rest, and so leading them one after another, he despatcheth them all, to the number of 88. (Acts and Mon.) All the elder went to death more cheerfully, the younger were more timorous. I tremble and shake (saith a Roman Catholic, out of whose letter to his lord this is transcribed) even to remember how the executioner held his bloody knife between his teeth, with the bloody muffler in his hand, and his arms all in gore blood up to the elbows, going to the fold, and taking every one of them one after another by the hand, and so despatching them all, no otherwise than doth a butcher kill his calves and sheep. Notwithstanding all which barbarous cruelty, the Waldenses or Protestants were so spread, not in France only, their chief seat, but in Germany also, many years before this, that they could travel from Collen to Milan in Italy, and every night lodge with hosts of their own profession. It is not yet a dozen years since Pope Urban VIII (that now sitteth), upon the surrender of Rochelle into the French king’s hands, sent his breve to the king, exasperating him against the Protestants in France, and eagerly urging, yea, enforcing the destruction of all the heretics stabling in the French vineyard, as his inurbanity is pleased to express it. Reliquias omnes haereticorum in Gallica vinea stabulantium propediem profligatum iri. (Bp Hall’s Answer to Pope Urban.) But "what shall be given unto thee? or what shall be done unto thee, thou foul tongue? Sharp arrows of the mighty, with coals of juniper,"Psalms 120:3-4; Psalms 120:3-4 , which burn vehemently and smell sweetly. God shall shortly put into the hearts of the kings of the earth (and this king among the rest of the ten) to hate the whore, to eat her flesh, and to burn her with fire, Revelation 17:16 . ( Babylon altera adhuc stat, cito itidem casura, si essetis viri. Petrar.) There are not many ages past since one of his predecessors broke open the gates of Rome, mouldered the wall, dispersed the citizens, and condemned the pope to a dark dungeon, lading him with bitter scoffs and curses. There are not many years past since the realm of France was ready, upon the pope’s refusal to re-bless King Henry IV, upon conversion to them, to withdraw utterly from the obedience of his see, and to erect a new patriarch over all the French Church. (Philip le Beausandys.) The then Archbishop of Bruges was ready to accept it: and but that the pope (in fear thereof) did hasten his benediction, it had been effected, to his utter disgrace and decay. (Powell on Toleration.) Before he would do it, he lashed the king in the person of his ambassador, after the singing of every verse of miserere, until the whole Psalm was sung out. Sed exorto Evangelii iubare, sagaciores, ut spero, principes, ad nutum huius Orbilii non solvent subligacula, saith a great divine of ours (Dean Prideaux). King Henry VIII and the French king (some half a year before their deaths) were at a point to have changed the mass in both their realms into a communion: also to have utterly extirpated the Bishop of Rome, &c. (Acts and Mon., Ex testimon. Cranmeri.) Yea, they were so thoroughly resolved in that behalf, that they meant also to exhort the emperor to do the like, or to break off from him. The same emperor, to be revenged upon Pope Clement, his enemy, abolished the pope’s authority throughout all Spain, his native kingdom, declaring thereby (the Spaniards themselves, for example) that ecclesiastical discipline may be conserved without the papal authority. (A.D. 1526, Scultet. Annal.) The Eastern Churches have long since separated; the other four patriarchs dividing themselves from the Bishop of Rome, and at their parting using these or the like words: Thy greatness we know, thy covetousness we cannot satisfy, thy encroaching we can no longer abide; live to thyself. ( Odi fastum illius ecclesiae. Basil.) Neither are the Western much behind, especially since all was changed in that Church, -manners, doctrine, and the very rule of faith, in the Trent Council. Then (according to some expositors) did "the second angel pour out his vial upon the sea" (upon that conflux of all sorts at Trent), "and it became as the blood of a dead man" (those deadly decrees are written with the blood of heretics), "and every living soul died in that sea," as once the fish of Egypt. (Field of the Church, Rev 16:3 ) For none that worship the beast "have their names written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world," Revelation 13:8 . Slain, I say, as in his Father’s decree and promise, as in the sacrifices of the law and faith of his people; so in his members and martyrs, beheaded, as John Baptist, or otherwise butchered for the witness of Jesus and for the word of God. But the blood of the martyrs was the feeding of the Church. ( Sanguis martyrum, semen ecclesice. Tert. Testes veritatis per Illyricum. ) God was never left without witnesses, as is seen in our catalogues; but although John was cast into prison, yea, beheaded in the prison, as if God had known nothing of him (quoth that martyr), yet there never wanted a Jesus to go into Galilee: and that guilty Edomite Herod was sensible of it, Matthew 14:2 , when he said to his servants, "This is John Baptist, he is risen from the dead." In like sort the Romish Edomite, after he had done to death Christ’s two more ancient witnesses, that (Baptist-like) came in the spirit and power of Elias, to confute and confound their Baal-worships, yet to his great grief and regret he hath seen them revive and stand upon their feet again, Revelation 11:10 , in that heroic Wycliffe, who is said to have written more than two hundred volumes against him, in that goose of Bohemia, that swan of Saxony (those three famous angels, that flew in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to them that dwell on the earth), together with those other noble reformers in all Christian Churches. (Pareus in Revelation 14:6 . Hus in that language signifieth a "goose," Luther a "swan," and John Huss at his death prophesied it.) By whom, ever since the pope was declared to be antichrist, his authority (saith Bellarmine) hath not only not increased, but daily more and more decreased. The fourth beast hath lost a head, as Cusanus the cardinal hath prophesied, A.D. 1464, and after him Trithemius the abbot, A.D. 1508. A sect of religion, saith he, shall arise once within this thirteen years, to the great destruction of the old religions. It is to be feared that the fourth beast will lose one of her heads. ( Secta religionis consurget, magna veterum destructio religionum; timendum ne caput unum amittat bestia quarta. Lib. de Intelligentiis Coelestib. Bucholcer, Chron.) This he writeth in his book concerning angels and spirits: what kind of spirit it was (black or white) that dictated unto him this prophecy, which fell out accordingly, and was fulfilled in Martin Luther, I cannot tell. But the godly learned suspect it was from that evil spirit, who is said to have sung before,
" Roma, tibi subito motibus ibit amor. "
As the Emperor Frederick is reported also to have foretold in this ditty, -
" Roma diu titubans, variis erroribus acta,
Corruet; et mundi desinet esse caput. "
a A leguminous plant (Trigonella Fœnum Græcum) cultivated for its seeds, which are used by farriers. ŒD
13 And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim:
Ver. 13. And leaving Nazareth ] Where he had his conception and education; and did therefore in a special manner affect them, and seek their good, but they would not. For when he would have healed Israel, then the iniquity of Ephraim broke out, as the leprosy in their foreheads, Hosea 7:1 ; they refused to be reformed, they hated to be healed. Some few sick folk he healed there, and that was all he could do for them, more than marvel at their unbelief. He "could do there no mighty work," saith St Mark, Mar 6:5-6 and therefore left them, saith St Matthew: than the which he could hardly have done them a greater displeasure, for "woe be unto you, if I depart from you," Hosea 9:12 . In Ezekiel 9:3 ; Ezekiel 10:4 ; Ezekiel 10:18-19 ; Ezekiel 11:22-23 , God makes various removes; and still as he goes out, some judgment comes in, till at length he was quite gone out of the city, Matthew 11:23 . And then followed the fatal calamity in the ruin thereof. Oh, pray that the sun of that dismal day may never arise, wherein it shall be said, that our candlestick is removed, Revelation 2:5 , that our sun is eclipsed, that the glory is departed from our English Israel, that Christ hath turned his back upon this our Nazareth; Mittamus preces et laerymas, cordis legatos, saith Cyprian. Currat poenitentia ne praecurrat sententia, saith Chrysologus. Wish we for our Church, as Forus did for the Romish synagogue, that we had some Moses to take away the evils and abuses therein. Nam non unum tantum vitulum, sed multos habemus. And then sing as another did,
" Ah, ne diem illum posteri
Vivant met, quo pristinum
Vertantur in lutum aurea
Quae nos bearunt soecula! "
He came and dwelt in Capernaum ] Happy town in so sweet and precious an inhabitant! and is therefore said to be lifted up to heaven, Matthew 11:23 ; as, Revelation 7:4-8 , among those that were sealed of the various tribes, Judah is first reckoned of all Leah’s children, because our Lord sprang out of Judah: and Nephthalim (of all those of Rachel’s side) because at Capernaum, in that tribe, he dwelt, Ut utrobique superemineat Christi praerogativa, saith an interpreter, that Christ may be all and in all. (Mede in Apocalyps.; Aquinas; Jerome in Mat 8:1-34 ) Here he dwelt in a house, either let or lent him; for of his own he had not where to rest his head, Matthew 8:20 . Here he paid tribute as an inhabitant; and hither he resorted and retired himself, when he was tired at any time with preaching and journeying, and was willing to take rest; which yet hardly he could do through the continual concourse, but was glad to get into a ship or desert to pray, eat, or sleep.
Which is upon the sea coast ] That is, hard by the lake of Gennesareth in Galilee of the Gentiles. Josephus calls it a town, κωμην , because it was without walls (belike). For Strabo writeth that Pompey had commanded the walls of all fenced cities in those parts to be pulled down. St Jerome also saith it was a town, and that it so continued till his times. But St Matthew and St Luke name it a city, wherein there was a synagogue of the Jews, and a garrison of Herod’s soldiers, because it bordered upon Arabia. It had fifteen thousand inhabitants at least, there being no town in Galilee that had fewer, saith Josephus (B. J. iii. 2). The inhabitants might be of the same mind with those of the Hague in Holland, who will not wall their town, though it hath two thousand households in it, as desiring to have it counted rather the principal village of Europe than a lesser city.
In the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim ] In the former whereof is Galilee, in the latter this Galilee of the Gentiles, where stands the town of Capernaum, and near unto it is a well of the same name, and of apt signification; for Capernaum, saith St Jerome, is by interpretation "the town of consolation." It was situated on this side Jordan, over against Bethsaida, otherwise called Julius, not far from Tiberius, and Tarichaea, famous places lying likewise upon the lake.
14 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying,
Ver. 14. That it might be fulfilled, &c. ] The two Testaments may be fitly resembled to the double doors of the temple, one whereof infolded another: the Old is the New infolded; the New is the Old explicated. (Jerome in nom. Hebraicis.) For there are over two hundred and sixty places in the Old Testameat cited in the New: so that almost in every needful point the harmony is expressed.
By the prophet Esaias ] That evangelical prophet, that speaketh of Christ’s nativity, preaching, persecution, apprehension, death, resurrection, ascension, and second coming to judgment, so lively as no evangelist goes beyond him. (Bulling in Isa., praef. )
15 The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles;
Ver. 15. The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, &c. ] In Zabulon were Nazareth, Bethsaida, Tiberias, Cana (where our Saviour turned water into wine), and Nain, where he raised the widow’s son; so that she was twice a mother, yet had but one child, 2 Samuel 20:18 . In Nephthalim were the city of Abel (where they asked counsel of old, and so they ended the matter); Harosheth the city of Sisera, Riblah, Caesarea Philippi, and Capernaum. This borough was the seat of the evangelical kingdom; and it was fitly chosen for such a purpose, as that which by reason of the wonderful wholesomeness of the air, fertility of the soil, nearness to the river Jordan and lake of Gennesareth, neighbourhood of many great towns and famous cities, promised a plentiful increase and income of the evangelical harvest. Here the grain was white unto the harvest (as at Samaria) and solicited labourers. It is a minister’s wisdom to seat himself, as near as may be, where most need is, and greatest likelihood of doing good, as St Paul did often. ("Come ever into Macedonia and help us," Acts 16:9 ; "Thou hast well done that thou art come," Act 10:33 ) No Church was founded at Athens, no good to be done there among those wits of Greece. The apostle tarried at Ephesus while a door was opened, and then departed to other places. If thou perceive thyself unfit to do more good in any place, though it be not any fault of thine, saith a grave author, away to another. If the commodity of the place prevail more with thee there to abide, than the promoting of Christ’s kingdom, to use thy talent elsewhere, it is to be feared thou wilt either lose thy gifts, or fall into errors and heresies, or, at least, become a frigid and dry doctor among such a people as have once conceived an incurable prejudice against thee. (Rolloc. Com. in Joh 4:44 )
Galilee of the Gentiles ] So called, either because it bordered upon the Gentiles, or because it was given away by David to Hiram, king of Tyre, or because it was inhabited by the Assyrians, who carried the people captive, and dwelt in their place.
16 The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.
Ver. 16. The people which sat in darkness saw a great light ] For the day-spring from on high visited them, the bright Sun of righteousness (which had all Palestine for his zodiac, the twelve tribes for his signs) stayed longest in Zabulon and Nephthalim, Luke 1:2 ; Malachi 4:2 ; and (St Jerome observeth) as these two tribes were first carried into captivity, and seemed farthest from heaven, as bordering on the Gentiles, and in many things symbolizing with them, having learned their manners; so redemption was first preached in these countries. Physicians are of most use where diseases abound. The prophets in Elisha’s days planted at Bethel. There was at once the golden calf of Jeroboam and the school of God.
Sat in darkness, and in the region and shadow of death ] Note here that a state of darkness is a state of death. This is condemnation, this is hell above ground and beforehand, that "light is come into the world, and men love darkness better than light," John 3:36 . Ut liberius peccent libenter ignorant. (Bernard.) Now surely they shall one day have enough of their so much desired darkness, Proverbs 14:14 . They know not the light, saith Job. Job 24:13 They hate it, saith our Saviour, John 3:20 . They spurn and scorn at it, saith Solomon,Proverbs 1:22; Proverbs 1:22 ; therefore shall they be filled in their own ways, while they are cast into utter darkness, a darkness beyond a darkness ( σκοτος εξωτερον ), as it were a dungeon beyond a prison, where they shall never see light again, till they be enlightened with that universal fire of the last day to their everlasting amazement, 2 Thessalonians 1:8 .
Light is sprung up ] He brought them "out of darkness into his marvellous light." So he did the Samaritans by Philip’s preaching and miracles, whereupon there was great joy in that city, 1 Peter 2:9 ; Acts 8:8 . So by the ministry of Farel, Viret, Calvin, and others, he drew the Genevans out of the dark midnight of damned Popery; in a thankful remembrance whereof they coined new money, with this inscription on the one side, Post tenebras lux, After darkness light. (Their posy then had been, Post tenebras spero lucem, taken out of Job.) And on the other side, Deus noster pugnat pro nobis, Our God fighteth for us. (Scultet. Annal.)
17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Ver. 17. From that time Jesus began to preach ] So he had done before John was imprisoned, John 2:13-25 ; John 3:1 ; John 3:22-24 , but now more freely, and frequently more manifestly, and all abroad, as when the daystar hath done his devoir, the sun shines out to the perfect day, Proverbs 4:18 .
And to say, Repent ] Both for sin by contrition, and from sin by conversion. Change your minds and manners, your constitution and conversation, from worse to better ( μεταναειτε ); recover your lost wits with the prodigal (who repenting is said to come to himself), and become wiser after your folly (from ανοια , dementia, and μετα , after Luk 15:17 ) Pull down the very frame of the old man, unmake yourselves, as St Peter hath it, ταις αμαρτιαις απογενομενοι , 1 Peter 2:24 . Undo what you had done before, and be ye transmentated and metamorphosed "by the renewing of your minds,"Romans 12:2; Romans 12:2 ; for, "except a man be born again," not desuper only, but denuo, from above, but a second time, ’ Ανωθεν , John 3:3 , as Nicodemus understood our Saviour except he go over all again that is past, rejecting it as unprofitable, and begin anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God: where old things are past, all things are become new, 2 Corinthians 5:17 , a whole new creation.
For the kingdom of heaven is at hand ] See what is said of this whole verse, Matthew 3:2 . For this was the sum and substance of the Baptist’s, our Saviour’s, and his apostles’ sermons; and had need to be daily pressed and preached, since it is our pensum diurnum, the first and continual work of God’s Spirit in the faithful, who because they cannot wash their hands in innocence, wash them in tears; and by renewing their repentance, work and wear out all brackish and sinful dispositions, as sweet water will do the salt sea coming into it; as wine or honey casteth out the scum, as fast as it ariseth. Christ biddeth us as often to pray, "Forgive us our trespasses," as we pray, "Give us this day our daily bread." He not only waits for repentance from the wicked, 2 Peter 3:9 , but would also have his dearest children daily meet him, condemning themselves, Luke 13:5 ; "If ye repent not" also more and more, when ye see the examples of God’s wrath upon others, "ye shall likewise perish." Besides, some sins are past in time that are not past in deed, if we dwell not in the undoing and reversing of them, Ezra 10:11-12 ; Ezra 9:15 . They were to begin anew their repentance, because they had not considered their marrying of strange wives.
18 And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.
Ver. 18. And Jesus walking by the sea of Galilee ] Not for recreation’s sake, or to deceive the time (for he had a great multitude attending upon him to hear the Word of God, as St Luke noteth), but as laying hold on the opportunity of calling Peter and Andrew, and after that James and John, to the apostleship. Our Saviour knew that a well chosen season is the greatest advantage of any action; which, as it is seldom found in haste, so is too often lost in delay. The men of Issachar were in great account with David, because they had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do, and when to do it,1 Chronicles 12:32; 1 Chronicles 12:32 . So are they in great account with the Son of David, who regard and improve (as he did here) the season of well doing, which they that lose are the greatest losers and the most wasteful prodigals. For of all other possessions two may be had together; but two moments of time (how much less two opportunities of time!) cannot be possessed together. Some are semper victuri always about to conquer (as Seneca saith), ever about to do better; they stand futuring and whiling out the time so long, till they have trifled and fooled away their own salvation. Let us sit ready in the door of our hearts (as Abraham did in the door of his tent) to apprehend occasions of doing good, as he to entertain passengers, to set a word or work upon its wheels, that it may be as "apples of gold in pictures of silver," Proverbs 25:11 , pleasant and profitable; for everything is beautiful in its season, and how forcible are right words! Ecclesiastes 3:1 ; Job 6:25 . As the bee (as soon as ever the sun breaks forth) flies abroad to gather honey and wax, so be thou ready to every good work, waiting the occasions thereof, Titus 3:1 . Now, now, saith David, and after him Paul, because (for aught we know), it is now or never, today or not at all, Psalms 95:7 ; 2 Corinthians 6:2 . Opportunities are headlong, and once past, irrecoverable; Ex hoc momento perdet aeternitas. (August.) God hath hanged the heaviest weights upon the weakest wires. Be quick, therefore, and abrupt in thine obedience, thou knowest not what a great bellied day may bring forth, Proverbs 27:1 . Nescis quid serus vesper vehat. Yea, thou mayest the very next hour be cut off from all further time of repentance, acceptation, and grace for ever.
He saw two brethren ] He knew them and admitted them into his friendship well nigh a year before, John 1:39 , but now calleth them from being fishers to be fishers of men. Peter is famous for his first draught, Acts 2:41 , whereby he caught and brought to the Church three thousand souls.
Casting their nets into the sea ] God calleth men when they are busy; Satan, when they are idle. For idleness is the hour of temptation, and an idle person the devil’s tennis ball, which he tosseth at pleasure, and sets to work as he liketh and listeth. ( Veteres Romani Agenoriam Stimulam et Strenam intra moenia pro diis coluerunt. Quietem vero extra urbem constituerunt. Senec.) God hath ordained that in the sweat of his brow man should eat his bread,Genesis 3:19; Genesis 3:19 . The Hebrew hath it, In the sweat of his nose; for he must labour till the sweat run down his nose. Which if he do, God hath promised that manus motans, the diligent, nimblehanded man shall not stay long in a low place. He shall stand before princes, as these painful fishermen were to stand before the Prince of Peace, and to be of his constant retinue; as, till then, their busy attendance on their calling was no less pleasing to Christ than an immediate devotion. Happy is that servant whom his Lord when he comes shall find serving God and man with his fat and sweat, as the fig tree and vine in Jotham’s parable, Proverbs 10:4 ; Proverbs 22:29 ; Judges 9:9 .
For they were fishers ] Asinos elegit Christus, et idiotas, saith one, sed oculavit in prudentes, simulque dona dedit et ministeria. Christ sends forth none to preach but whom he gifteth: where the comfort is, that a small hand may thread a needle, and a little bark do better in a small river than a great ship.
19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
Ver. 19. He saith unto them, Follow me ] And together with his word there went forth a power inclining them to follow, whereby it appears that they were not only of the many that are called, but of those few that are chosen, Luke 6:13 ; Matthew 22:14 ; "The Lord knoweth who are his," saith St Paul. But this knowing of his is carried secret, as a river underground, till by effectual calling he separates them from the rest, till they can "call upon the name of the Lord and depart from evil," 2 Timothy 2:19 . This when they are once taught of Christ they must be acting; when he hath tuned and touched us, we must make music, and while the Spirit embreathes us, we must turn about as the mill, and follow the Lamb wheresoever he goeth, as these disciples did, Revelation 4:4 .
And I will make you fishers of men ] Of live men, Luke 5:10 , ανθρωπους ζωγρων , as fishers desire to catch fish alive, because they are more vendible: an apt metaphor, wherein, 1. The world is compared to the sea, for its unsettledness, tumultuousness, the oppression that is in it (the lesser fish being devoured by the greater), and the sway that Leviathan, the devil, bears there, Psalms 104:26 ; Psalms 2:1-12 . The Church is compared to a boat, because it is continually tossed with the waves of affliction, as Noah, Jonah, the disciples, Paul, and those seafaring men, "that stagger like a drunken man," and all their cunning is gone,Psalms 107:27; Psalms 107:27 ; Psalms 3:1-8 . The fish to be caught out of this sea and to be brought into this ship are men, John 1:42 ; Matthew 8:24 . Nature hath, as it were, spawned us forth into this worldly sea; where we drink iniquity like water, wandering confusedly up and down, till caught and cast into the fish pool for the Master’s use and service. Unwittingly we are caught, and unwillingly we are kept, as fishes labour to get out of the net and would fain leap back out of the boat into the water. 4. Ministers are fishers. A busy profession, a toilsome calling, no idle man’s occupation, as the Vulgate conceit it, nor needless trade, taken up alate, to pick a living out of. Let God’s fishermen busy themselves as they must, sometimes in preparing, sometimes in mending, sometimes in casting abroad, sometimes in drawing in the net, "that they may separate the precious from the vile," &c., Jeremiah 15:19 ; Matthew 13:48 ; and no man shall have just cause to twit them with idleness, or to say they have an easy life, and that it is neither sin nor pity to defraud them.
20 And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.
Ver. 20. And they straightway left their nets ] As the woman of Samaria did her pitcher, Matthew his toll book, and blind Bartimeus his cloak when Christ called for him. Look we likewise to this "author and finisher of our faith;" and for love of him cast away every clog, and the sin that doth so easily beset or surround us. ευπεριστατον , Heb 12:1-2 Divorce the flesh from the world, and there is no great danger. Admire not overmuch, rest not in, dote not on, cleave not to, the things of this life (those nets and snares of Satan, whereby he entangleth and encumbereth us), that we may attend upon the Lord (or sit close to him) without being haled away or distracted by these lusts of life ( ευπροσεδρον τω κυριω απερισπαστως , 1Co 7:35 ). The deeper any man is drowned in the world, the more desperately is he divorced from God, deadened to holy things, and disobedient to the heavenly call, as the recusant guests in the Gospel, Matthew 22:5 .
And followed him ] Immediately, and without sciscitation. When Christ calls we must not reason, but run, as Paul,Galatians 1:16; Galatians 1:16 ; not dispute, but despatch, with David, Psalms 119:60 . Go we know not whither, with Abraham; do we know not what, with Gideon. "If ye will inquire, inquire," saith Isaiah; "return, come," Isaiah 21:12 . God loveth curristas, runners not quaeristas, questioners saith Luther. A quick passage, and full of quickening; like that of the orator, Si dormis, expergissere; si stas, ingredere; si ingrederis, curre; si curris, advola. (Cicer.) Courts have their cito, cito, quick, quick; and courtiers used to observe and improve their mollissima fandi tempora; so must Christians. God is but a while with men in the opportunities of grace. He comes leaping on the mountains, and skipping on the hills: and, being come, he stands at the door and knocks by the sound of his Word and motions of his Spirit. He sits not, but stands: while a man is standing we say he is going, Song of Solomon 2:8 ; Revelation 3:20 . And woe be unto us if he depart from us, Hosea 9:12 . God hath his season, his harvest for judgment, Matthew 13:30 , and is now more quick and peremptory in rejecting men than of old: for how shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation as is now preached?Hebrews 2:2; Hebrews 2:2 . Our Saviour would not suffer the man that said he would follow him, to let so much time as to bury his father, Matthew 8:22 . Excuses he takes for refusals, delays for denials. As Saul lost his kingdom, so doth many a man his soul, by not discerning his time: and troops of them that forget God go down to hell, Psalms 9:17 . Quare castigemus mores et moras nostras. How you punish our ways and move us. Let us up and be doing, that the Lord may be with us.
21 And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them.
Ver. 21. He saw other two brethren, James, &c. ] Three pair of brethren, at least, our Saviour called to the apostleship; to show what brotherly love should be found among ministers, what agreement in judgment and affection. There the Lord commands the blessing, and life for evermore,Psalms 133:3; Psalms 133:3 . As where envying and strife is, there is confusion, and every evil work,James 3:16; James 3:16 . Hence the devil laboureth (all he can) to set ministers at variance, and to sow dissension among them (as between Paul and Barnabas), that the work may be hindered. Divide et impera, make division, and so get dominion, was a maxim of Machiavel, which he learnt of the devil. What woeful tragedies hath he raised of late between the Lutherans and Zuinglians! What comedies have the Papists composed out of the Church’s tragedies! To foster the faction, they joined themselves to the Lutherans in that sacramentary quarrel. They commended them, made much of them, and almost pardoned them all that loss they had sustained by them. ( Eos excusabant, in pretio habebant, ac tantum non ignoscebant iis. Scultet.) This, that holy man of God, Oecolampadius, bitterly bewaileth in a letter to the Lutherans of Suevia. The error, saith he, may be pardoned through faith in Christ, but the discord we cannot expiate with the dearest and warmest blood in our hearts. ( Error condonari potest, modo fides adsit in Christum; discordiam, neque si sanguinem fundamus, expiabimus. ) They, on the other side (in their syngram or answer), handled that most innocent man so coarsely, ut non obiurgatione, sed execratione dignum sit, saith Zuinglius, that they deserved not to be confuted, but to be abhorred by all men. This was as good sport to the Papists as the jars between Abraham and Lot were to the Amorites. But that one consideration (that we are brethren) should conjure down all disagreements (as between them) and make us unite against a common adversary. The Low Countrymen, suspecting the English (A.D. 1587), stamped money with two earthen pots swimming in the sea (according to the old fable), and wittily inscribed, Si collidimur, frangimur, If we clash we are broken. The Thracians, had they been all of one mind, had been invincible, saith Herodotus. And Cornelius Tacitus (who had been here in Brittany with his father-in-law Agricola) reporteth of our forefathers that they fell into the hands of the Romans by nothing so much as by their dissensions among themselves. Rarus duabus tribusve civitatibus conventus. Ita dum singuli pugnant, universi vincuntur. (Tacitus.) Pliny telleth of the stone Thyrraeus, that, though never so large, while it is whole, it floateth upon the waters; but being broken, it sinketh. And who hath not read of Silurus’s bundle of arrows? To break unity is to cut asunder the very veins and sinews of the mystical body of Christ, as the apostle intimateth, 1 Corinthians 1:10 ; ( κατηρτισμενοι ), to hinder all true growth in godliness, Ephesians 4:16 , and inward comfort, Philippians 2:1 , to drive away God, who appeared not to Abraham till the difference was made up, Genesis 13:14 , &c., and to outdo ourselves ( Praesente Loto, et vigente contentione, Deus non apparuit. Par. in loc.): as the dragon sucketh out the blood of the elephant, and the weight of the falling elephant oppresseth the dragon, and so both perish together. (Plin. lib. 8, c. 12.) To prevent all which, and to compose all quarrels in this Egypt of the world, let it be remembered, as Moses told the two striving Israelites, that we are brethren. And oh how good and how pleasant it is for brethren (in the ministry especially) to dwell together in unity, Psalms 133:1 .
22 And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.
Ver. 22. And they immediately left the ship and their father ] These were wise merchants that parted with all to purchase the pearl of price. So did many martyrs, and knew they made a saver’s bargain. Nicholas Shetterden writeth thus in a letter to his mother (Acts and Mon.): "Whatever state your fathers are in, leave that to God, and let us follow the counsel of his word. Dear mother, embrace it with hearty affection; read it with obedience; let it be your pastime, &c. So shall we meet in joy at the last day: or else I bid you farewell for evermore." So Nicholas of Jenvile (a young man newly come from Geneva) was condemned to die, and sat in the cart. His father coming with a staff would have beaten him. But the officers, not suffering it, would have struck the old man. The son, crying to the officers, desired them to let his father alone, saying he had power over him to do in that kind what he would; but Christ was dearer to him than the dearest friend on earth, &c. That of St Jerome is well known to most, and often alleged: "If my father stood weeping on his knees before me, my mother hanging on my neck behind me, and all my brethren, sisters, children, kinsfolk, howling on every side, to retain me in a sinful life with them, I would fling my mother to the ground, despite all my kindred, run over my father, and tread him under my feet, thereby to run to Christ when he calleth me." Rebezies and Danvile, two French martyrs, having been sorely racked, at night rejoiced together. After that Rebezies cried twice or thrice, "Away from me, Satan." His fellow being in bed with him asked why he cried, and whether Satan would stop him from his course? Rebezies said that Satan set before him his parents, "but by the grace of God," said he, "he shall do nothing against me." (Acts and Mon.)
23 And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.
Ver. 23. And Jesus went about all Galilee ] Not (as the Circumcelliones of old) to make show of their holiness; nor as the Jesuits (into whom the Pharisees have fled and hidden themselves) to gain proselytes and passengers that go right on their ways, Proverbs 9:15 ; but "he went about doing good," saith St Peter, Acts 10:38 . The chiefest goods are most active; the best good a mere act. And the more good we do, the more God-like we are, and the more we draw nigh to the heavenly pattern. Religion is not a name, goodness a word; but as the life of things stands in goodness, so the life of goodness in action. So much we live, as we do. "O Lord, by these things men live," saith Hezekiah, "and in all these things is the life of my spirit," Isaiah 38:16 . And he that keepeth my commandments shall live in them, as the lamp lives in the oil, the flower in the earth, the creature by food. Nos non eloquimur magna, sed vivimus, said the ancient Christians. And holy Bradford accounted that hour lost wherein he had not done some good with tongue, pen, or hand. God hath set us our time and our task, Job 14:5-6 . David is said to serve out his time; and John Baptist, to finish his course,Acts 13:25; Acts 13:25 . Up, therefore, and be doing, that ye be not taken with your task undone. Fruitless trees shall be cut down: short shooting loseth many a game. The master is an austere man, and looketh for his own with usury. ( Dies brevis est, et opus multum et operarii pauci, et paterfamilias urget. Rab. Simeon.) It is an easy thing when the candle is out, and all still without din, to fall a napping: which will prove to your cost when God shall send forth summons for sleepers.
Teaching in their synagogues ] Houses dedicated to the worship of God, wherein it was lawful (and usual) to pray, preach, and dispute, but not to sacrifice, Acts 15:21 . The temple at Jerusalem was the cathedral church; the synagogues as petty parish churches belonging thereunto. There were 480 of them in Jerusalem, as Manahen the Jew reporteth.
And preaching ] Which is a further matter than teaching, and is therefore set after it here as an addition. It signifieth to publish, and (as a herald, κηρυττειν ) to deliver a matter in the hearing of a multitude with greatest majesty, constancy, fidelity, and liberty of speech; not budging or balking any part of the truth; not huckstering the word of God or handling it deceitfully, but as of sincerity, as of God, in the sight of God, speaking in Christ. καπηλευοντες , 2 Corinthians 2:17 ; corrupting, as men do by their false wares, or mixed wines.
And healing all manner of sickness and disease ] Both acute and chronic. None came amiss to this Jehovah Rophe, the Lord that healeth, as he styleth himself; this "Sun of righteousness, that hath healing under his wings." ( μαλακια proprie significat ignaviam stomachi. Νοσος , morbum vehementiorem et intensiorem,Exodus 15:26; Exodus 15:26 ; Mal 4:2 ) To an Almighty Physician, saith Isidore, no disease can seem incurable. ( Omnipotenti medico nullas insanabilis occurrit morbus. ) He healeth with a wet finger (as we say) such patients as all the physicians in the country cast their caps at, and could not tell what to say to.
24 And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them.
Ver. 24. And his fame went through all Syria ] Fame followeth desert, as a sweet scent the rose. This gave occasion to the poets to feign that Achilles’ tomb was ever garnished with green amaranth. "A good name is better than great riches," saith Solomon, Proverbs 22:1 . And if I can keep my credit, I am rich enough, saith the heathen. ( Ego si bonam famam servasso, sat dives ero. Plaut.) Blessing and good report are expressed by one and the same word in the Old Testament, to show what a blessing of God it is. And it could not but be a great comfort to David, that whatsoever he did pleased the people, 2 Samuel 3:36 . Cicero saith that perfect glory consisteth in these three things: if the multitude love a man, if they will trust him, and if they hold him worthy of admiration, praise, and honour. (Offic. ii. 5.) Now none of these were wanting to our Saviour, as appeareth in his holy history, and as others have fully set forth. "Do worthily in Ephratah, and so be famous in Bethlehem," Ruth 4:11 .
And they brought unto him all sick people ] All that were in ill case and taking: for, Si vales, bene est, If you are well I am well, saith one; and, Vita non est vivere, sed valere, Life is not to live, but influence, saith another. The Latins call a sick man aeger, which some derive of αι, αι , the voice of complaint and grief. And the Stoics when they affirmed that to live agreeable to nature is to live virtuously and valiantly, although the body be never so out of order, they perceived when their own turn came to be sick, saith Jerome, se magnificentius locutos esse quam verius, that they had spoken more trimly than truly.
That were taken with divers diseases and torments ] That were besieged and hemmed in on every side, as by an enemy straitened and perplexed ( συνεχομενους ), so that they knew not whither to look, only their eyes were toward Christ.
Diseases and torments ] As of those that are put upon the rack. Pharaoh was so when God extorted from him that confession, "I have sinned;" which (being gotten off) he soon bit in again. The word here used in the original ( βασανος ), properly signifieth the test or touchstone, wherewith gold is tried; and, by a borrowed kind of speech, is applied to all kind of examination, and (peculiarly) to inquisition by torture, to any pain or painful diseases, as of the palsy, lunacy, &c., in this text, and Matthew 8:6 . As also to the torments of hell,Luke 16:23; Luke 16:23 , whereof sicknesses are but a beginning, a foretaste, a very typical hell to those that have not the fruits of their sickness. ( Morbos virtutum officinas vocat. Ambrosius.) And this "is all the fruits, even the taking away of their sin," Isaiah 27:9 . I blush not to confess, saith a great divine of Scotland, that I have gained more sound knowledge of God and of myself in this sickness than ever I had before. ( Non erubesco profiteri, &c. Rolloc. apud. Melch. Adam.) Happy sickness, that draws the sick matter out of the soul. Physicians hold that in every two years there is such store of ill humours and excrements engendered in the body, that a vessel of one hundred ounces will scarcely contain them. Certain it is, there is a world of wickedness and superfluity of naughtiness (that bed of spiritual diseases) daily gathered and gotten together in the sin-sick soul: which therefore we must labour to purge out by the practice of mortification, lest God purge and whiten us to our sorrow by some sharp sickness, Daniel 11:35 ; Dan 12:10 he did Gehazi, whose white forehead had made him a white soul: his disease cured him, as some are of the opinion,2 Kings 5:27; 2 Kings 5:27 .
Possessed with devils ] Such as whose minds and senses the devil perverted.
Those that were lunatic ] Or such as had the falling sickness, as appeareth by those symptoms of this disease set down by St Matthew. Mat 17:15 (Scultet. Exerc. Evang. ii. 12.) This is otherwise called Morbus Sacer Sacred disease. For the priests of old (that they might thereby enrich themselves) feigned that the gods tormented men with this, among other sudden and fearful diseases. (Becman, Orig. Ling. Latinae.)
25 And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan.
Ver. 25. And there followed him great multitudes ] A good housekeeper shall not (likely) want company. "O thou that hearest prayer" (and so solicitest suitors), "to thee shall all flesh come," Psalms 65:2 . Christ’s miracles drew multitudes after him then; and should still affect us with admiration and strong affection for the gospel, as the author to the Hebrews showeth, Hebrews 2:3-4 .
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Matthew 4". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany